Save Richmond Trees - Join the Conversation!

Richmond needs trees. But we have lost over 8,000 mature trees in the last five years!

Have you noticed the house beside you is for sale or has been sold to build a new one? If so the builder may contact you asking if they can take your tree(s) down. This is now a very common occurrence here in Richmond. Builders want houses without trees around their property in order to maximize the footprint of the new house they want to build. They may tell you different things to convince you to agree to remove the trees(s), but without your permission they are not allowed to proceed. Trees filter pollution and improve Richmond’s air quality. Trees reduce stormwater runoff, and decrease the urban heat island effect; improving the health and wellness of residents and the community. Trees are also important to our mental health, they give us street beauty, reduce traffic noise, provide privacy and songbird habitat.

Did you know that a mature tree can provide enough oxygen for two to four people depending on its size and age? A single mature tree can absorb 26 pounds of carbon dioxide each year? And, that trees can lower energy bills by shading our homes in the summer, and shielding from winter winds? With hotter summers we need trees more than ever.

The Urban Heat Island Effect

The Urban Heat Island Effect shown here in a UBC study. Notice how agriculture and parkland are much cooler than the urban parts of the City. The Garden City Lands as a very dark purple square near City Centre, acts as an air conditioner for the those living nearby in the summer. 
Oke et al (2014, in prep.): Urban Climates, Cambridge University Press, Reproduced with Permission from Authors.

Here is what you can do to help: 

Keep an eye out for protected trees during new house construction. If you notice any infractions you can contact:

  • Gordon Jaggs, City of Richmond Tree Bylaw Officer
  • 604.247.491

Infractions include any damage to the tree or tree roots, adding or taking away soil in the protected area, or building materials placed inside the orange fencing zone. The orange fencing is supposed to be erected and maintained during the construction of the new home. 

Join the community discussion on Facebook at: Save Richmond Trees

Thank you for your support!

Cindy Lee

Letter: Neighbourhood Tree Watch

Tree Canopy Study

i-Tree Canopy (USDA Forest Services)

The USDA Forest Services i-Tree Canopy software offers a quick and easy way to produce a statistically valid estimate of land cover types (e.g., tree cover) using aerial images available in Google Maps (

Ideal for policy level discussions the latest version also estimates values for benefits that include air pollution reduction and capturing atmospheric carbon. i-Tree Canopy can be used by urban forest managers to estimate tree canopy cover, set long term canopy goals and monitor canopy change over time.

American Forests advocates that every city set a tree canopy goal for their community as an important step in ensuring that their valuable green infrastructure is maintained at minimum thresholds as the community develops

Analysing Richmond's tree canopy changes over time, it is estimated that roughly 1/4 of Richmond's tree canopy has been lost since 2001.

The loss is higher in single-family neighborhoods that have been the focus of recent redevelopment.

Other cities are working to develop policies and strategies with clear tree canopy targets in mind.

What is Richmond's tree canopy goal?


The City of Richmond needs to conduct a comprehensive urban forest benchmarking study. Comparing the %-tree canopy coverage observed today with historical changes from the last 30 years.

Ecosystem Services

Every Environmental Sensitive Area (ESA) strategy and Urban Forest Tree Canopy strategy is rooted in the idea of 'ecosystem services'. Or more simply... "natural ecosystem benefits provided by trees include building energy savings, carbon sequestration and storageair pollution removal, storm water retention, street beauty, mental health and wellness, and many more..."

Cities understand these terms because they spend tens to hundreds of millions of dollars on these concerns every year. This is the 'business' language that makes ecosystem services an effective tool for nature. The terms 'natural assets', 'natural capital', 'ecosystem services', 'green infrastructure'... allow communities around the world to make better decisions.

  1. City of Richmond - 2012 Environmentally Sensitive Area Management Strategy (2012)

  2. City of Richmond - Ecological Network Management Strategy - Phase 1 (2014),

  3. The impact of green space on heat and air pollution in urban communities (March 2015)

  4. Natural Capital in BC's Lower Mainland, David Suzuki Foundation (October 2010)

  5. Topsoil Bylaws Toolkit, Okanagan Basin Water Board (2012)

  6. TD Bank Special Report - Urban Forests (June 9, 2014)