What is the urban forest?

    The urban forest consists of all the trees and other vegetation within a city - on private and public land. The urban forest includes trees and other plants in parks, along roads, and on residential, commercial, institutional and industrial properties.

    What is the tree canopy?

    Tree canopy cover is the area covered by trees (branches, stems and leaves) when viewed from above. Many communities measure the percentage of land covered by the tree canopy to determine the extent and distribution of the urban forest and how it is changing over time.

    Why is it important to manage the urban forest?

    The urban forest provides many benefits - environmental (e.g., wildlife habitat, air quality, summer cooling), social (e.g., health, recreation, beautification), and economic (e.g., attracting people to commercial areas, increasing property values, reducing infrastructure costs). The urban forest also faces challenges including climate change and development.  

    The urban forest will help Surrey achieve our targets to reduce carbon pollution - also known as greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions - because trees remove carbon dioxide from the air, release oxygen, and cool the local climate. 

    Having an overarching strategy will help us define a sustainable approach to urban forest management, with objectives and an action plan to achieve short-, medium- and long-term goals.

    Doesn't the City already have a tree management plan?

    The City has bylaws and practices related to trees. Our Natural Areas Management Plan and Shade Tree Management Plan guide the management of trees on City land. Our Tree Protection By-law (16100) and building site requirements regulate the management of trees on private property.

    This new strategy will integrate existing policies, strategies, and plans and set a clear direction for the future management of the City’s urban forest.

    How does the City currently care for trees in Surrey?

    City staff are responsible for planting and caring for trees on all City land, including in parks and along roads. Our comprehensive maintenance program for shade trees includes planting, watering, base maintenance, pruning and pest management. In natural areas, we manage forest health, wildlife habitat, invasive species, hazard trees, and public recreational access such as trails.

    Over the last five years, the City has planted an average of over 4,300 shade trees, over 9,000 native trees and seedlings, and over 18,000 native shrubs per year. The City also involves the community in tree planting in parks through the Releaf program. 

    City staff also administer bylaws that address tree protection, tree removal and replacement, planting and maintenance on private property (including development projects). The City offers tree vouchers (currently on hold) and subsidized tree sales to encourage planting on private land.

    What areas of the City will be considered by the Strategy?

    The entire City, except land in the Agricultural Land Reserve, will be covered by this strategy.