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Innovation in Sustainable Roadside Tree Management City of Winnipeg Regional Street Case Study


The socio-economic benefits to society, both tangible and intangible, from healthy urban forests are varied and remarkable. These benefits are difficult to place a widely accepted financial value upon. Many jurisdictions make significant investments in trees over their lives. They represent important fixed assets with substantial book value. Proper life-cycle management is necessary to protect and enhance this investment. Many trees in urban areas are planted adjacent to roadways and other paved areas which are very difficult for trees to thrive in particularly in climates with wide variations in temperature like many parts of Canada. Traditional engineering and construction in most paved urban areas require replacing good planting soils with compacted sands/gravels and quickly directing runoff to sewers. It is difficult for trees in these areas to access the soil volumes and moisture necessary for vibrant root development. As a result of such difficult conditions the City of Winnipeg replaces trees in many areas every 7 to 10 years with some as often as every three. This frequent replacement leads to perpetually immature trees that providing only a tiny fraction of the benefits of fully mature. Various methods have been employed over the years in Winnipeg to increase the soil volume available for tree root development. The newest generation system tried by the City of Winnipeg was an innovative underground framework of fiberglass/ polypropylene structural “cells”. This system was used in an experimental project on the busy and historic Broadway in downtown Winnipeg in 2007. The installation of this type of system is straightforward but a long term and more widespread evaluation of its effectiveness and life-cycle costs is necessary.

Conference Paper Details

Session title:
W. Joe Funk
Dave Domke
Climate change