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Our Arboreal Support Network: Part Two in Chipps’ Guide to Trees’ Ecological Benefits

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Now that we’ve explored the supportive structures of roots found deep underground, we here at Chipps ask you to look up. Look way up to the healthy green leaves of your trees. In our second installment of Chipps’ guide to the ecological benefits of this city’s beautiful trees, we’re taking the time to examine how they provide shelter and food for the wildlife that calls Edmonton its home.

Ecological biodiversity is an important part of living in the Greater Edmonton Area. We’re lucky enough to have an incredible amount of forests, wetlands, and lakes that make up this great part of the country. In fact, the largest urban park in Canada is found right in our backyard. The River Valley covers more than 160 kilometres of protected pathways and greenspace.

This collection of parks is populated by a variety of different tree species, including the American Elm. As our regular readers know from our previous series focusing on the international effects of Dutch Elm Disease, we know that our parks contain the largest remaining concentration of this species. But that’s not all. The River Valley and the over 460 other parks located in the city contain large quantities of Jack Pine, Aspen, Manitoba Maple, and Blue Spruce – just to name a few.

These species do more than beautify our pathways and pepper our greenspaces with shade. They provide essential sustenance and shelter for our furry and feathered friends. Coniferous trees, like the various pines and spruces that can be found in our park systems, produce dense foliage throughout the year, making them ideal real estate for smaller animals that need cover from both predators and the elements. Deciduous species are excellent homes as well, and you’ll find a variety of birds and squirrels claiming these branches; however, due to their annual abscission (the scientific term for the process of shedding leaves), these trees have a finite lease. As the leaves begin to fall, many of its occupants find it’s time to look for a new home.

 

Regardless of the time of year, both coniferous and deciduous species provide sustenance for Edmonton’s critters. During the spring and summer, birds, small mammals, and insects take advantage of the leaves and flower buds that grow. The presence of hungry bugs is an added bonus for birds that snack on insects, making these trees an all-you-can-eat buffet. The blossoms also attract pollinators like bees, moths, and butterflies. Edmonton’s flowering maples, aspens, and poplars produce seeds, nuts, capsules that become the wintertime staples for many of the mammals and birds in the city. Meanwhile, the pinecones of spruce and pines contain seeds that are hoarded by squirrels and chipmunks.

If we direct our sights away from the boughs of these trees to their strong trunks, we’ll find even more species of animals making their homes. The industrious woodpecker, along with nuthatches and chickadees, create cavities in trunks where they build their nests. Insects also take advantage of these cavities as well as other areas where the bark has loosened.

Edmonton isn’t just known for its greenspace. A new study has named Edmonton as the fastest developing city in the country. As we continue to sprawl outwards, we need to remember how perilous this urban growth can be for the surrounding natural areas. Unrestricted development can encroach on our famous greenspaces and contribute to the displacement of our wildlife. It’s our responsibility to ensure as much of our natural habitat remains despite our continued growth, so our feathered and furry friends have a place to live and eat.

We here at Chipps provide a variety of services to protect the environment. We’re ISA-certified arborists looking after Edmonton, Sherwood Park, Strathcona County, and surrounding areas, and we’ve developed low-impact methods for pruning, maintenance, and removal to ensure our activity helps nurture both the trees and the animals they support. Give us a call if you need a consultation on the how best to care for yours. Together, we’ll make sure we’re doing our part to keep Edmonton green.