Ottawa’s Urban Forest Management Plan

On this page

Urban Forest Management Plan

Putting Down Roots for the Future [ PDF 4,983 MB ] is a 20-year strategic Urban Forest Management Plan (UFMP) for the City of Ottawa. This plan was approved by Ottawa City Council in June 2017 and has 26 recommendations for growing Ottawa’s urban forest and making it healthier, more diverse and resilient. The UFMP and its recommendations have been developed based on input from City staff, other stakeholders and members of the public, assessments of the current status of the urban forest management and planning framework in Ottawa, and accepted best practices.

The UFMP is intended to provide the strategic and technical guidance required to achieve urban forest sustainability in Ottawa over the coming decades.

What is the urban forest? 

Ottawa's urban forest includes all trees and their habitat within the city's urban area boundary. This includes trees on both public and private property: along city streets; in parks, open spaces and natural areas; and in the yards and landscaped areas of residences, offices, institutions, and businesses. The urban forest is a shared resource that provides a wide range of benefits and services to the entire community.

Ottawa's Urban Forest [ PDF 109 KB ]

Urban Forest Benefits

The benefits and services provided by the urban forest make critical contributions to the daily quality of life of those who live, work and play in Ottawa. An ever-increasing body of scientific and technical literature shows that trees and green spaces in urban areas provide direct and indirect benefits to human health, and can also help improve indicators of economic and social health and well-being.

urban forest management plan benefits - mental health
urban forest management plan benefits - physical activity
urban forest management plan benefits - cool off
urban forest management plan benefits - clean air
urban forest management plan benefits - protect yourself

Improve your mental health [ PDF 153 KB ]
Time to get physical [ PDF 133 KB ]
Cool off when it's Hot [ PDF 132 KB ]
Breathe clean air [ PDF 164 KB ]
Protect yourself [ PDF 101 KB ]

Vision and Objectives for Ottawa’s Urban Forest

Ottawa’s urban forest is healthy, diverse, resilient, and always growing. It sustains vibrant, livable and unique neighbourhoods and promotes health and well-being equitably for all of the city’s residents and visitors.

The vision of Putting Down Roots for the Future will be realized, in part, through the achievement of seven strategic objectives.

Objectives of Ottawa's Urban Forest Management Plan [ PDF 197 KB ]
Putting Down Roots for the Future - Vision [ PDF 100 KB ]
Putting Down Roots for the Future [ PDF 101 KB ]

urban forest management plan benefits - facts and objectives

Framework and Recommendations

The 20 year UFMP is broken down into five 4-year management periods. The 26 recommendations in the plan are assigned to one of the first two management periods. Please refer to the full UFMP for details on each recommendation and when they will be undertaken.

UFMP Management Period 1 - Projects currently underway

Tree By-law Review – The objective of this project is to review and update both the Urban Tree Conservation By-law and the Municipal Trees and Natural Areas Protection By-law. Staff will also investigate the need for a Heritage Tree By-law, program, or registry in Ottawa. In addition, this project will involve the development of city-wide tree compensation guidelines, as well as identifying and formalizing incentives for tree conservation and tree planting. Please refer to the Tree By-law Review project site for more information. (UFMP Recommendations 8, 14, and 24)

Forested Areas Maintenance Strategy – Staff completed the development of a Forested Areas Maintenance Strategy with the objective to improve the health, resilience and safety of Ottawa’s City-owned woodlands. It identifies woodland areas requiring management (especially following ash tree removal) and ensures successful regeneration of desirable indigenous vegetation instead of invasive species. The FAMS is an operational working document that is used by the City’s Forestry staff in planning and carrying out their maintenance cycles across the city. (UFMP Recommendation 12)

Urban Forest Canopy Cover Study - The first phase of this study was an assessment of the baseline canopy cover data. The Tree Canopy Assessment for Canada’s Capital Region is a collaborative project by the National Capital Commission, the City of Gatineau, and the City of Ottawa. The Capital Region’s forest canopy has been mapped to establish a baseline for future comparisons and provide necessary information for follow-up work, including the development of new urban canopy targets, an inventory of “plantable” urban space, and development of a tree planting prioritization tool. The mapping will be available on GeoOttawa and as an interactive map, and the data will be available through Open Data Ottawa. (UFMP Recommendation 4)

Significant Woodlands – In December 2016, City Council approved new policies for significant woodlands (currently under appeal).  In its decision, Council also directed staff to work with industry and community stakeholders on:  (a) updating the City’s Environmental Impact Statement Guidelines to address urban natural heritage system features in the context of all Provincial Policy Statement and Official Plan policies; (b) reviewing the Official Plan policies for protection of natural heritage system features in urban expansion study areas and developing communities. These initiatives are intended to balance better the policies for protection of urban natural heritage features against the PPS and Official Plan policies for efficient land use. This is scheduled to be completed in 2019 (UFMP Recommendation 7)

Improve policy implementation through internal outreach and engagement – The purpose of this effort is to expand awareness among City staff and other stakeholders who make decisions that affect the existing and future urban forest about the policies that are in place, mechanisms for implementing them, and how these policies also help implement other City-wide strategies and plans. Urban forest staff will be implementing this on an ongoing basis by meeting regularly with teams and individuals throughout the City of Ottawa whose work can benefit and/or impact trees. (UFMP Recommendation 6)

Assumption of trees in new developments – The purpose of this is to improve the process around the City assuming ownership of trees planted in new developments. The goal is to increase the rate of successful tree establishment and reduce tree mortality rates. In addition, this will help to maintain and improve the health and condition of City-owned street and park trees in the urban area and to reduce tree-related risk. This will be completed in early 2019. (UFMP Recommendation 11)

Contact Person:

Martha Copestake
Planning, Real Estate and Economic Development Department
613-580-2424, ext. 17922