Comment 104696

By gcasimirri (registered) | Posted September 22, 2014 at 14:15:47 in reply to Comment 104688

Yes, only the portions of the Dundas Valley and HRCA property that are within the urban area of Hamilton (as defined by our Hamilton Urban Official Plan) are included in the above mapping and calculations. The 2009 Urban Forest Cover study, from which our analysis was derived, only assessed forest canopy cover within the 'urban area'. No similar study of forest canopy cover has been conducted in the other parts of Hamilton (i.e. those which fall under the Rural Official Plan). Therefore, there is no data available to assess forest canopy cover in the whole of the City of Hamilton.

The Dundas Valley surely contributes significantly to our City's forest cover and ecological diversity but without a photogrammetric analysis of forest cover within the rural area we don't know how much. HRCA property size (ha) is useful to realize the significance of these areas to Hamilton in general but it cannot be used as a proxy for forest canopy cover data because the HRCA lands are not uniformly forested (although they may still contain important natural features and other habitats). Portions of HRCA lands are within the urban area and were assessed within the 2009 Urban Forest Cover study, so by adding HRCA total hectares to the 2009 estimated total hectares covered by forest cover, we are essentially counting some portion of the HRCA lands twice.

My intention with the article was not to portray a poor picture of Hamilton's record of natural area conservation or an overall bleak picture of our urban forest. However, the analysis (based on the latest and only available data we have) of forest canopy cover in our 'urban' area is what it is...18.79% with most of it contained in Escarpment lands, City parks, golf courses and HRCA lands. I think my point about the need for strategic planning to expand, enhance and build appreciation of our urban forest still rings true even if we were to factor in our extensive HRCA lands outside the urban area. Without a strategic plan in place for our urban forest, we are like a boat without a rudder, we may still float but we haven't got any clue where we will end up!

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