Urban forestry


On April 29, Kitchener City Council approved the city’s first Sustainable Urban Forest Strategy and implementation plan that will serve as the city’s guiding document for planning, engaging, maintaining, protecting and planting Kitchener’s urban forest. This long-term strategy presents the city’s vision and goal for a sustainable urban forest, and identifies five branches of a sustainable urban forest that are intended to guide future decisions and the setting of priorities.

The following key principles have strongly influenced the development of this strategy:

  1. The urban forest includes all trees on public and private lands.
  2. The community plays a key role in maintaining and enhancing the urban forest, particularly on private lands.
  3. Trees and the larger urban forest provides significant economic, environmental and social benefits to the community.
  4. A sustainable urban forest maximizes benefits while minimizing the associated costs and risk. In contrast to traditional corporate assets trees provide their greatest benefits during their latter stages of life.

The strategy and implementation plan were developed after an extensive community engagement and planning process including feedback from more than 1,800 citizens.

It's hard to imagine a vibrant, caring and innovative city without picturing trees. To hear how trees improve our community and much more watch our short video:

It's a tree's life: Kitchener's first sustainable urban forest strategy 

Tree planting pilot program

You’ve told us how much trees mean to you and this community. We’re launching a pilot program that supports residents city-wide interested in planting trees on both private and public lands. Applications will open beginning May 6, 2019 and will close July 1, 2019. Plantings are expected to take place during National Forest Week, Sept. 22 - 28, 2019.

Applications are now closed. 

The new Tree Planting Pilot is segmented into the following streams:

Stream 1: City-wide subsidized tree planting pilot on residential property. 
 Each successful individual applicant will receive:
  • A consultation with Reep Green Solutions providing advice on selecting trees that will meet the goals of the property owner and guidance on how to care for their trees. 
  • A subsidized tree planted by Reep Green Solutions on their property.
  • A follow-up visit to check on the health of their tree(s).
 Program criteria and eligibility
Pilot participants for the city-wide subsidized tree planting pilot on residential property will be accepted on a first come, first served basis provided they meet screening criteria such as:
  • Available space for tree planting (including underground utilities)
  • The suitability of the site and soil
  • Property ownership
  • Commitment to look after any plantings
  • The subsidized rate for the consultation and tree planting service will range between $150-$250 depending on the types and number of trees selected to be planted.

Applications for the tree planting pilot on private lands are now closed. If you're interested in future programs, visit Reep Green Solutions

Stream 2: Neighbourhood tree planting pilot in neighbourhood parks. 
Each successful application (submitted by a group of neighbours) to plant in a neighbourhood park will receive:
  • Support to plant 10-15 trees on public, city-owned property.
  • The opportunity to host a neighbourhood gathering to celebrate the tree planting. 
  • Educational workshops and consultations on tree maintenance.
Program criteria and eligibility
  • Groups must provide up to three neighbourhood park locations where they would like to have trees planted in order or preference. Priority will be given to neighbourhoods with the lowest canopy cover. City staff will perform a technical evaluation (i.e. soil conditions, proximity to a water source, etc) to determine the viability and financial feasibility of your proposed tree planting locations. This technical evaluation will inform the selection process.
  • Groups must demonstrate how they would commit to maintaining the trees for a period of two years. Maintenance includes watering and mulching tree every two weeks between the months of June to October.
  • Groups must be available to host a tree planting event during National Forest Week, from Sept. 22-28, 2019. 
  • Groups must explain what type of neighbourhood celebration event they are planning to host in conjunction with the tree planting. With support from the neighbourhood development office, all selected groups will be provided the opportunity to host a neighbourhood gathering to celebrate the tree planting. This could include a BBQ, street party, or gathering in the park.
  • Groups must demonstrate how their tree planting project is inclusive and encourages diverse neighbourhood involvement. This should include, at minimum, informing residents living within 120 meters of the project site and providing opportunities to share their support.

Resources (background information)

  1. Kitchener’s Sustainable Urban Forest Strategy This concise document provides you with the key information to quickly understand what the strategy is about, our vision for a sustainable urban forest, our goal, the five branches (Plan, Engage, Maintain, Protect, Plant) of a sustainable urban forest, and 15 identified actions.

  2. 2017 Kitchener’s Sustainable Urban Forest Report Card rates the city’s exiting forestry program using 28 targets that are recognized as key components of a sustainable urban forest program.  

  3. Developing a sustainable urban forest program background document explains why the city is doing this work, the benefits of the urban forest, provides an overview of the project, key challenges and opportunities facing Kitchener's urban forest, and the next steps.

  4. Tree Canopy Report details Kitchener's tree canopy, based on analysis of 2014 imagery.

  5. Kitchener's online urban forest story map allows residents to discover the urban forest in their neighbourhood and learn more about the city's tree canopy.

Concerns about city trees

If you have a concern or question about a city tree (e.g. low tree limbs, dead tree) please contact our corporate contact centre at 519-741-2345 or info@kitchener.ca.

More information about trees

Structural pruning

City of Kitchener's forestry staff conducts structural pruning on city trees to help them grow into healthy, mature trees. Structural pruning helps increase trees health, longevity and resiliency to climate change. 

What is structural pruning?

In forests, trees develop strong branch structure because they grow in close proximity to each other. The shade created by other trees suppresses growth of lower limbs. In the city, where there are a lot of single trees, the amount of sunlight encourages them to develop multiple, competing branches. This type of tree structure is vulnerable to breakage and can reduce the tree’s life expectancy. Trees with one dominant stem and well-spaced branches are more likely to thrive for a long time.

Before structural pruning     After structural pruning 
Tree before structural pruning.                  Tree after structural pruning.

The tree will have fewer branches and look less full after structural pruning is complete, but don’t be alarmed, this is part of the process. Pruning happens over a period of years and helps develop a strong, resilient branch structure.

 More Information about Invasive Species

 Invasive species threaten the health of our urban forest. Knowing this, we have identified the control of invasive species as a priority in the Sustainable Urban Forest Strategy which provides direction for the development of programming that will aim to proactively monitor, prevent and manage the impacts of invasive species.

For more information about invasive species in Kitchener, you can visit the Grand River Conservation Authority page about invasive species or get involved by mapping and reporting invasive species in Ontario through the EDD Maps Program

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