A new report shows Victoria’s urban forest grew by 45 hectares (111 acres) between 2013 and 2019. (Don Descoteau/News Staff)

A new report shows Victoria’s urban forest grew by 45 hectares (111 acres) between 2013 and 2019. (Don Descoteau/News Staff)

Victoria’s urban forest grew by the equivalent of 60 soccer fields in six years

Total tree canopy of nearly 1,400 acres covers 28 per cent of the city’s land area

Victoria’s urban forest is growing, according to a new report presented to city council Thursday.

Between 2013 and 2019, data shows, the city’s vegetation canopy increased by 111 acres or about 60 soccer fields. In 2019, trees covered 1,381 acres of public and private land, amounting to 28 per cent of Victoria’s land area.

“This analysis demonstrates we can continue to develop and grow as a city while also protecting and growing the urban forest necessary for public enjoyment and to address climate change and long-term resilience,” Mayor Lisa Helps said in a statement.

Canopy cover in other large B.C. cities is lower, with Kelowna reporting an estimated 16 per cent and Vancouver 23 per cent.

READ ALSO: RCMP arrest seven at Vancouver Island old-growth logging blockades Wednesday

In Victoria, there are approximately 150,000 trees, as well as shrubs and ground cover. Of that, roughly one quarter of the urban forest is managed by the city, while the remaining 75 per cent is on private and other public land.

The trees are tracked using light detection and ranging (LiDAR) laser technology, which scans the environment from the air and generates a three-dimensional representation of the overall canopy cover.

Last year, Victoria joined the United Nations Trees in Cities Challenge and increased its tree planting by 40 per cent, adding 535 new trees in parks and boulevards. Trees, the city says, play an important role in mitigating climate change and extreme weather by providing shade, a wind buffer and erosion management.

The 2013 and 2019 canopy cover maps can be viewed at maps.victoria.ca.

READ ALSO: Greater Victoria real estate sales holding steady


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