City of Mission to plant 80,000 trees in municipal forest this year

Planting for annual silviculture and reforestation program has already started

The city’s forestry department will be planting a total of 80,000 trees as part of their annual silviculture and reforestation program.

Planting started in early Spring, and will add three species to the municipal forest – Douglas fir, Western red cedar, and Western white pine – chosen for their “climate adaptability, history as a native species, and ability to thrive in the ecosystem,” says a press release from the city.

“There are very few things that define Mission more than its municipal forest,” said Mayor Paul Horn. “We have been shaped by our relationship with the forest surrounding us and these 80,000 new trees are part of a long-standing tradition of stewardship, sustainability and community pride.”

All three species thrive in the local environment, with the red cedar and Douglas fir type being dominant pre-European contact, said Kelly Cameron, a forest technologist with the city.

The municipal forest is currently composed of 61 per cent Western hemlock, which is at risk of a dwarf mistletoe disease that kills over time, and can spread to smaller adjacent hemlocks, according to the press release.

It says returning the Western red cedar to the land will allow for continuing Indigenous uses, and it’s a focus of the forestry department to plant in preferred growing sites.

Inclusion of deciduous species in harvest areas will increase diversity, and add to the resiliency for future forests, according to the Forestry Department’s climate change adaptation strategy.

The reforestation program also monitors last year’s planting to inspect survival rates and assess whether more planting is required.

The normal survival rate is 98 per cent, according to the city, and even the dry conditions in the 2021 heat dome did not kill many new plants.

The 2023 seedlings are already growing in a nursery, according to the city press release.

“It is really satisfying to have watched our trees grow over the last 26 years of my career here, and keep our forests healthy and vibrant for future generations,” Cameron said.