As per the estimates made by the Vancouver city Council, tree canopy has declined by more than 25 percent over the past two decades, and most of this decline is attributed to tree removal on private property, either by homeowners or people redeveloping a property. Currently, there is a one-for-one replacement rule for tree removal, but between 25 and 35 percent of replacement trees die or are removed within their first year.
The proposed amendment calls for deposits of $500 for removing a tree less than eight centimetres in diameter and $750 for a tree wider than eight centimetres. Malcolm Bromley of the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation said:
Tree removal has been a big reason for the loss of trees. Many have been removed to make way for new construction.There was a lack of rigor and follow-up. I think people saw trees as disposable and they would plant to meet their obligation and then they really wouldn’t pay as much attention to it as they should. People respond better if they have a stake in the game.
Vancouver is also planning to plant enough trees in hundreds of parking lots owned by the city council without much parking loss to cover 40 percent of the blacktop with canopy. The city is also selling trees to its residents with a goal of selling 7,000 trees to private property owners in 2016.
Vancouver’s urban forest comprises 140,000 street trees, mostly maples, cherry and plum, plus 300,000 park trees and countless others on private property, including thousands of gardens. Its canopy cover has dropped from more than 22 percent in 1995 to 18 percent in 2013.