A local volunteer group will be establishing an inventory of Bloomfield’s trees this summer.
Gerry Jenkinson and Patrick Howe addressed committee of the whole on behalf of the local Horticultural Society, Master Gardeners, and the Prince Edward County Field Naturalists, indicating volunteers will be moving forward with a project to count and map the village’s trees. Jenkinson serves as the volunteer co-ordinator for the initiative while Howe serves as the project manager.
“The inventory will provide us with a comprehensive understanding of Bloomfield’s urban forest,” said Jenkinson. “Knowledge gained through the inventory will foster a sense of community stewardship over the trees in the area and can help strengthen the municipalities official plan and secondary plans.”
She said the inventory will be taken using the Neighbourwoods tree inventory protocol developed by the University of Toronto’s Dr. Andy Kenney and Dr. Danijela Puric-Mladenovic. Neighbourwoods uses information gathered by community members along with sampling and analysis techniques. Utilizing standardized data such as site conditions, tree health, and species, the inventory can be used to strategically manage local canopies.
“The program is designed to help community volunteers and professionals collect the information they need to be good stewards of the earth and forest,” said Jenkinson.
The group received $1,750 to fund the project through the County Foundation-managed municipal grant program. To this point, 45 volunteers have stepped forward to assist in the project.
“Their enthusiasm is a testament to how much people in the county value trees and tree canopy,” she said.
More volunteers are welcome to reach out if they wish to be part of the project. The volunteers will be trained over two and half days in June with Kenney and Puric-Mladenovic working with them. Jenkinson said through June and July the volunteers will be scattered across the village identifying and measuring trees along streets and public areas. Volunteers will also be approaching homeowners to ask permission to include trees on their property which would allow for a more fulsome inventory.
Once the data is collected, the next phase of the project will see it entered into a Neighbourwoods database.
“With this data we will be able to provide detailed tree canopy maps and gain an understanding of the species, size, and other characteristics of the village forest,” Jenkinson said.
The county would be joining many other Ontario municipalities to use the Neighbourwoods program. At least 18 communities have undertaken similar projects so far, Jenkinson said. She said that again indicates how much communities value trees.
The project was initiated by local group Tree the County. The group focuses on preserving and enlarging the local tree canopy while raising awareness about the benefits of trees to the environment. There is potential for the inventory project to extend to other parts of the county in the future.
“While our long-term goal is to gather Neighbourwoods data for other urban areas such as Wellington and Picton, in 2018 we’re focusing on the village of Bloomfield,” Jenkinson said.
Councillor Bill Roberts said the project sounded interesting and wished the volunteers luck. He questioned whether the inventory could include other information, such as the cultural history of certain trees and any special connections they may have in the community. He noted West Lake’s Wishing Tree.
“These are trees that have a real story to be told around them and I’m wondering if there’s an opportunity to capture some of that or if there are trees that warrant capturing some of that,” he said.
Howe said the first step to understanding and managing forests is to do an inventory. He said the inventory could be an effective resource for the municipality or other groups to start to dig into some of the other aspects of the trees.
“On the subject of the Wishing Tree and heritage trees, certainly with the inventory we’ll be able to do a query of how many trees are over a certain size or perhaps age and might be able to whittle down a candidate list to help support those initiatives,” he said.
An information session is planned for May 26 at Bloomfield Town Hall. The training will take place June 22–24.