Protecting a city's greenery, one branch at a time:
Trees earn their keep in the urban landscape.
'Trees can help us enjoy our urban life so much more,' says Janet McKay, executive director, Local Enhancement and Appreciation of Forests (LEAF).
Beyond their natural beauty, urban trees improve the quality of urban life in countless ways. Their leaves produce oxygen while removing carbon dioxide from the air, with an average tree cleaning up four to five kilograms of pollution in a year. They help prevent soil erosion and are natural habitats for birds, insects and other urban wildlife.
Trees provide privacy, add to a home's value and can lower home heating and cooling costs by up to 10%. Not surprisingly, the City of Toronto has set the goal of increasing the city's tree canopy to 30% coverage in 2020 from 18% in 2006. And Toronto Hydro Corp. is committed to helping.
'We do a yearly Earth Day tree-planting event with Toronto Hydro,' Ms. McKay says. 'More than 100 Toronto Hydro employees come out and we plant several hundred trees and shrubs. They're just amazing and are so willing and keen to help out.'
Among its other tree initiatives, the corporation, which was LEAF's first corporate sponsor 11 years ago, has planted 10,000 native trees across Toronto in partnership with the Ontario Forestry Association.
But for all their benefits, when the wind blows and the storms pound, trees can cause havoc, with fallen branches crashing into cars, homes - or worse, people. And they can bring down a power line in a flash, turning it into a live hazard on the ground, leaving homes and businesses without power.
Because of this, overhead power lines and trees have historically been at odds. In recent years, however, Toronto Hydro has been transforming these odds into opportunities for greater efficiency, public safety and healthier urban trees.