The City of Regina is looking to counter mother nature hurting the tree population in the City.
Regina city council decided to increase the City’s tree replacement budget from $91,000 to $125,000 per year. A further increase of $25,000 will happen for the next five years. They also approved to increase the minimum removal fee for requests to remove established trees to $500.
The City’s goal of one tree per person is currently being met at 103 per cent, but based on the tree mortalities and replacements in 2020 and 2021, there is a risk that the City may fall behind without an increase to current budgets.
“We want to continue to make sure that we’re continuing the investment in it. We had a little bit of net loss in the number of trees, and this is making sure we don’t fall behind,” said Mayor Sandra Masters.
Last year, Regina had a net loss of 356 trees and had lost 519 more trees this September.
Storms affected the number of trees as 663 trees were serviced for summer storm-related weather events. Of the 663 trees responded to, 63 trees were removed for safety reasons, with the rest being repaired to a safe status. The 2020 total number of trees repaired or removed from storm events is more than the previous four years combined.
It wasn’t just storm conditions; it was also a drought that had a severe impact.
Much of the poor condition trees were impacted by the continuing four-year drought. Environment Canada reports that drought experienced during 2020 was the fourth lowest precipitation in the
Regina area for 130 years. In August of 2020, Forestry crews began to focus on buffer trees impacted by drought. During that month, 300 trees were removed for poor/other conditions. For 2020, the trees removed were the highest on record.
For 2020 there is a net loss of 356 trees to the urban forest, and this is the first year where removals have exceeded plantings in recent memory. Another sign is that the four years of drought negatively impact the tree population.
Also approved was a tree donation program that allows residents to plant trees on public lands on application to the City, and the first Wednesday of June each year, beginning June 1, 2022, as Arbor Day Regina and donate 1000 tree seedlings to Regina residents.