Aaron Hinks photo                                 Ocean Park Beautification Committee member Nicole Nelson (left) and former City of Winnipeg environment manager Kristine Koster have an interest in preserving the urban forest in South Surrey.

Aaron Hinks photo Ocean Park Beautification Committee member Nicole Nelson (left) and former City of Winnipeg environment manager Kristine Koster have an interest in preserving the urban forest in South Surrey.

‘Value of Trees’ forum planned

Ocean Park community neighbourhood to learn about urban forest benefits

A group of residents concerned with the dwindling of South Surrey’s urban forest will host a free educational forum this week on the importance of trees.

“We’re just really concerned with the developments that are happening when they go in and clear cut trees,” Ocean Park Beautification Committee member Karen Kilbride told Peace Arch News last week.

Kilbride said her group went door-to-door in the Ocean Park and Crescent Beach neighbourhoods advertising Thursday’s event, which features a presentation by UBC professor of urban forestry Cecil Konijnendijk, at the Ocean Park Community Hall, 1577 128 St., at 7:30 p.m., Aug. 17.

Konijnendijk, who agreed to speak at the event free-of-charge, has taught, studied and advised on the role of trees and greenspace in towns and cities.

“We just want to raise awareness that trees are an asset (and a) value to the environment. I don’t think people realize all the benefits people receive from a mature tree. Replacing them with seedlings or small trees is not the same as the value of a mature tree,” Kilbride said, adding that the group has no political affiliation and invited City of Surrey councillors to attend.

City staff will also be featured at the event, including Nadia Chan, manager of trees and landscaping, and Neal Aven, urban forestry manager.

Ocean Park Community Association board member and member of the Ocean Park Beautification Committee Nicole Nelson said the intent of the beautification organization is to focus on public lands, as “we realize that everyone has a right to their property.”

“Our ultimate goal is to try and form a committee to work with the City of Surrey. For, essentially, the beautification of the city,” Nelson said, adding that the City of Surrey has been “fabulous” to work with.

“They’re concerned with this as well.”

Former City of Winnipeg environment manager Kristine Koster – a new resident of the Ocean Park neighbourhood and beautification committee – said she found that the City of Surrey is more progressive when it comes to protecting trees than Winnipeg.

“It’s always good to take stock of what you have accomplished, I would say that they’ve accomplished a lot,” Koster said of the South Surrey residents.