The Township unveiled a draft plan to add more trees to urban areas, in settings like this greenway near 77th Avenue and 208th Street. (Langley Advance Times files)

The Township unveiled a draft plan to add more trees to urban areas, in settings like this greenway near 77th Avenue and 208th Street. (Langley Advance Times files)

Langley Township plans to plant thousands of trees every year

Increasing and protecting the forsest canopy expected to cost $130,000 annually

Langley Township’s plan for increasing the number of trees in both urban and rural neighbourhoods is now ready to go to the public.

On Monday, Dec. 13, the council voted unanimously to send the draft Community Forest Management Strategy (CFMS) out for comments by community members. After hearing what the public has to say, council is expected to consider adopting the plan.

As currently written, the CFMS envisions 31 per cent of the Township covered in trees, including 30 per cent for lands within the Urban Containment Boundary, which includes major neighbourhoods like Walnut Grove, Willoughby, Brookswood, and Aldergrove.

Right now, about 23 per cent of land in the Urban Containment Boundary is forested, which means a seven per cent increase. Overall, about 30 per cent of the Township is treed.

The targets would put Langley at the forefront of planning for urban tree cover in the region, said Coun. Blair Whitmarsh, who was co-chair of the committee that drafted the CFMS.

“We might be the leader in Metro Vancouver in terms of tree canopy,” Whitmarsh said, “and our targets would continue to see us grow the tree canopy in the Township of Langley, despite the fact that 75 per cent of land is ALR, and as well continue our growth and accommodating people.”

READ ALSO: Council divided on effectiveness of Township climate control options

The plan includes a survey of existing tree cover around the Township, noted Coun. Petrina Arnason, who was also on the CFMS committee.

“It’s a baseline, it’s a sense of a snapshot of where we are,” she said.

The report noted that without any action, existing tree cover will suffer.

“With 40 per cent of urban lands yet to be developed, it is estimated that the urban tree canopy could decline to as low as 20 per cent in the next 30 years if no action is taken,” it said.

To increase the number of trees, especially in urban areas, the plan envisions planting 10,200 new trees a year, with 1,600 of those street trees, 1,700 in parks and buffer zones, 3,750 in new developments, and 1,000 on private land, encouraged through incentives. Another 2,150 are expected to be planted as part of an ecological services initiative.

The total cost is expected to be at least $130,000 a year over 30 years.

New trees are to be planted with an eye toward the impacts of climate change, which is expected to result in hotter, drier summers, which can harm trees directly or through making them more vulnerable to pests and diseases.

Drought-tolerant and climate adapted species will have to be chosen in urban areas, the plan says.

Adding to the tree canopy is part of the Township’s plan to fight climate change locally.

READ ALSO: Township plans to fight heat by adding trees to Langley

Public input is expected to include both surveys and online open houses in the coming months.

The Township has been working towards this plan since 2019, the same year it voted to create the first municipality-wide tree protection bylaw.

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