Responsible parkland care means sustainable practices that contribute to a healthy, climate-resilient livable City. Naturalization helps preserve and expand the urban forest and supports the natural plant and animal species found in our region. There are three main stages to the naturalization process.
Stage 1: Site Preparation
Beginning in 2023, for sites being prepared for naturalization, regular grass mowing/turf maintenance is adjusted at the start of the season to a height of 10cm. City crews will continue to monitor and maintain the areas controlling noxious prohibited weeds and trash removal.
This stage may last for 1-2 years. Then if the location is suitable to have trees and shrubs, the process will continue to Stage 2, tree planting, otherwise it will stay in the site preparation stage for another year.
Certain sites may be able to have trees and shrubs planted in the first year, skipping stage 1 and moving immediately to stage 2 and 3.
Stage 2: Active Tree Planting or Passive Naturalization
Sites that are suitable will be planted with trees and shrubs that are native to Alberta to establish a healthy and diverse ecosystem. At first, you will see groups of small trees that, in time, will mature into a natural tree stand enhancing the landscape's beauty and providing many environmental, social and economic benefits to Edmonton's citizens. Other sites will be left to passively naturalize to allow for natural expansion of existing trees stands or grass meadows.
Stage 3: Establishment and Monitoring
Once trees and shrubs have been planted, they will be monitored for another 2-3 years. Activities during this phase include inspections, watering and weed control where needed. If the site is establishing well, it will move to a “free to grow” phase, otherwise it will go back to stage 2 for additional planting.
The City of Edmonton is expanding the urban forest to achieve the goal of planting two million new trees and 20 percent canopy coverage as the population grows. The result will help to enhance our diverse urban forest so that it will continue to provide benefits for generations to come.