July 15, 2016 7:52 pm
Updated: July 15, 2016 7:53 pm

‘There were thousands of trees lost’: Tree Canada to help Fort McMurray regenerate urban forest

WATCH ABOVE: As part of Operation ReLeaf Fort McMurray, Tree Canada has been tasked with helping the northern Alberta municipality rebuild and rejuvenate its urban tree canopy. Earlier this week, the not-for-profit organization toured the fire-ravaged region by helicopter.

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A plan is underway to help regenerate the urban forest in Fort McMurray after May’s devastating wildfire.

As part of Operation ReLeaf Fort McMurray, Tree Canada has been tasked with helping the northern Alberta municipality rebuild and rejuvenate its urban tree canopy.

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“This is a biggie. There were thousands of trees lost, urban trees. There were millions of trees lost in the bush, in the rural forest, but there were thousands of trees lost in town,” Michael Rosen, president of the not-for-profit organization, said Friday.

“The amount of forest that was actually burnt within the city of Fort McMurray itself… was quite disturbing,” Rosen said.

“It was a very sobering day. It was very sad in parts, but it gave us a better idea of where we could direct a program.”

READ MORE: Fort McMurray wildfire: Why the fire engulfed the city within hours

Members of Tree Canada toured the fire-ravaged region by helicopter Thursday to get an idea of just how much forest was lost. Rosen said he was encouraged to already see re-growth in the rural areas.

“We’re looking at trees, new generation, already a foot high and it’s not been two months from the actual fire so that was really encouraging,” he said. “But all that does not hold true in the urban areas.”

Rosen said while the rural boreal forest will regenerate itself, the urban forest faces much different challenges.

“The urban areas, they will not really naturally regenerate. They need help. The soils are compacted, they’re dealing with air pollution, salt from city streets, all that kind of stuff.”

Watch below: Boreal forests designed to burn, makes fighting Fort McMurray wildfire a challenge

Tree Canada will work with the municipality and the government of Alberta to come up with a clean-up plan to remove the old, burnt trees then focus on regeneration.

The organization has helped with forest regeneration following natural disasters across Canada, including here in Alberta after the southern Alberta floods in 2013 and the 2014 freak September snow storm in Calgary.

Watch below: Welcome to Snowtember, Alberta

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