Forests don’t have to cover hundreds of hectares. We can create them in our back yards.
The trees we plant prevent soil erosion from heavy rain, and attract biodiversity, especially those flowering species which attract birds who may subsequently build nests. Depending on the size of your property, in BC you can cultivate Douglas firs or Western Red Cedars which will eventually tower several hundred feet. (Some older properties in Vancouver have huge old growth trees which were never felled). Conversely, there’s species such as popular Japanese elms which can be kept trimmed to 20 or 30 feet.
When thinking about trees for your yard, local nurseries sell species which thrive in our provincial climatic zones. You may be surprised about what you’re able to grow!
Our climate is warming: some parts of Vancouver Island are now classified as “9a” – a zone which previously did not exist in Canada. Updated climatic maps show areas in Northern BC that have moved up to three zones higher. Eastern Canada does not show the same extremes as the west coast.
If you need some guidance about growing your own forest, see Natural Resources Canada’s (NRC) “My Tree” app which helps you choose the right tree for your backyard. NRC’s website also allows access to their database (Explore Plants in My Area) where you can enter a city and see a list of plants which grow in that locale.
If a forest is not your first choice, another resource for creating eco-friendly lawns and gardens comes from the UBC Botanical Garden. And yes, they do have an IOS app for “Vancouver Trees” which describes commonly cultivated deciduous and evergreen trees in the Metro Vancouver area.
The Morrell Nature Sanctuary is a wonderful place for families to explore forest life. Maybe we can replicate a small part of that experience in our own backyards.