Our urban forest strategy is our guiding document for planning, engaging, maintaining, protecting and planting Kitchener’s urban forest.

On this page:

  1. Our urban forest canopy
  2. Our Sustainable Urban Forest Strategy
  3. Background information

Our urban forest canopy

During the development of our Sustainable Urban Forest Strategy, we measured the urban forest canopy. This is the amount of area in Kitchener that, when viewed from above, is covered in tree canopy. It is generally understood that 30% canopy cover is the minimum amount needed to provide for a connected system that supports biodiversity. However, getting to 30% canopy cover is difficult in urban areas and most Ontario cities have less canopy than this.

In 2015, we found that Kitchener had an urban forest canopy of around 26% or 3,474 hectares of canopy cover. When we remeasured this in 2019, we found that we had increased our urban forest canopy to 27% or around 3,615 hectares of canopy cover. This shows that despite the loss of trees through the impacts of emerald ash borer and losses because of development, the growth in our existing mature trees has led to an overall increase in canopy cover. While these are excellent results and rank Kitchener among the cities with the highest urban canopy covers in Ontario, maintaining or improving this will take work.

In January 2022, city council supported and approved a tree canopy target of 30% in each ward by 2050 and a target of 33% across Kitchener by 2070. This targeted approach to growing the tree canopy over time will involve new tree planting, as well as increasing the maintenance of existing trees.

Urban forest map

In January 2022, city council approved a tree canopy target of 30% in each ward by 2050 and a target of 33% across Kitchener by 2070. This targeted approach to growing the tree canopy over time will involve new tree planting, as well as increasing the maintenance of existing trees.

Check out our urban forest map to see upcoming and ongoing forestry work around the city. We’re using this map to share information about tree planting, street tree pruning, tree removals and more.

Open the urban forest map

During street tree pruning work, we may need to do emergency tree removals for public safety reasons. In these cases, we cannot provide advanced notice to nearby residents.


Our Sustainable Urban Forest Strategy

We developed our Sustainable Urban Forest Strategy and implementation plan after we heard from over 1,800 residents through a community engagement and planning process. These principles influenced the development of this strategy:

  • the urban forest includes all trees on public and private lands
  • the community plays a key role in the urban forest, particularly on private lands
  • trees and the larger urban forest provide economic, environmental and social benefits to the community
  • a sustainable urban forest maximizes benefits while minimizing the associated costs and risk

This long-term strategy presents our vision and goal for a sustainable urban forest and names five branches of a sustainable urban forest that will guide future decisions and help us set priorities:

  • recognize the value of our trees
  • sustain our existing urban forest
  • grow the urban forest
  • communicate and provide information
  • involve neighbourhoods

Watch this short video to learn more about our urban forest strategy:

Read the full Sustainable Urban Forest Strategy


Background information

These document include background information that helped inform our Sustainable Urban Forest Strategy: