What is Windsor's "urban forest"?

    Windsor’s urban forest includes all trees and their growing environments located within the city. These may include trees in parks and natural areas, along city trees, and on private residential, commercial, and institutional lands.

    The City of Windsor owns and manages nearly 87,000 street and park trees, with an unknown number more trees in forests and other natural areas. The most common tree species inventoried in Windsor include honey locust, Norway maple, and silver maple, with each comprising approximately 9-10% or 200 hectares or more of Windsor’s total tree canopy.A pie chart showing land cover classes for Windsor Ontario based on 2019 satellite imagery and LiDAR. 19% of the City is tree canopy. 32% is non-canopy vegetation. 37% is impervious. 10% is soil and dry vegetation. 2% is water.

    About 19%, or nearly one-fifth (2,798 hectares), of the city is covered by trees—this is commonly termed “canopy cover”. Windsor’s canopy cover is somewhat lower than average (24%) among urban municipalities in Southern Ontario. A detailed assessment of Windsor’s urban forest canopy cover was conducted in 2020 and is available in the documents list on this page.

    What benefits does the urban forest provide?

    As in other municipalities, Windsor’s urban forest gives back significant benefits to the community through the environmental, societal, and economic services that urban trees provide. Just a few examples among these many benefits include:

    • Reducing energy use cost and greenhouse gas emissions by shading and cooling,
    • Promoting healthy and active living by encouraging people to spend time outdoors,
    • Improving mental health and reducing anxiety
    • Protecting water quality and reducing flooding risk by slowing down and absorbing stormwater, and
    • Protecting air quality by filtering out airborne pollutants.

    An assessment of Windor's urban forest canopy cover, conducted in 2020, revealed that our urban forest:

    • Removes over 195 metric tonnes of air pollution annually, valued at over $1.9 million,
    • Provides over $1.6 million in annual stormwater management benefits, absorbing over 75,000 litres of water per hectare per year, and
    • Stores nearly 250,000 tonnes of carbon (valued over $55 million) and sequesters over 6,700 more tonnes of carbon dioxide per year, valued over $1.5 million.

    An infographic depicting Eco Benefit Savings provided by Windsor's urban forest, including removing over 195 metric tonnes of air pollution annually, valued at over $1.9 million, providing over $1.6 million in annual stormwater management benefits, absorbing over 75,000 litres of water per hectare per year, storing nearly 250,000 tonnes of carbon (valued over $55 million) and sequestering over 6,700 more tonnes of carbon dioxide per year, valued over $1.5 million.

    Why does the urban forest need a plan?

    Like urban forests everywhere, Windsor’s urban forest faces significant challenges that threaten to reduce the benefits and services that trees provide to the community. Some of the key challenges include:

    • Urban development: Existing trees may be injured or destroyed during development, or site conditions may not allow for growth of the future urban forest. Windsor’s UFMP will consider strategies and actions that improve tree protection and tree growing environments on development sites, where feasible.

    • Climate change: Climate change will bring longer droughts, stronger winds, heavier rains, extreme temperatures, and other extreme weather conditions. These may threaten tree health, increase the spread of pests and diseases, and challenge the urban forest in other ways. Windsor’s UFMP will consider strategies and actions to improve tree health, plant a climate change-resilient urban forest, and help the community adapt to climate change.

    • Invasive species: A wide range of urban forest pests, diseases, and invasive plants threaten the health and ecology of Windsor’s trees and natural areas, and their potential impacts are likely to increase with climate change. Windsor’s UFMP will consider strategies to prevent the introduction and spread of these threats and to control invasive species that may already be established in the city.

    • Difficult growing conditions: Trees have evolved to thrive in forests, and growing conditions in urban areas pose challenges to tree health. Trees in urban areas may experience too much or not enough water, extreme temperatures, compacted or contaminated soils, lack of space, construction impacts, de-icing salt, and many other stressors. Windsor’s UFMP will consider strategies to provide high-quality growing environments for new trees and improve growing conditions for existing trees throughout the city.

    • Fragmented ownership: Windsor’s private, commercial, and institutional landowners control most of the city’s urban forest. These private lands often include ‘soft’ landscaped areas and provide some of the most suitable growing environments for urban trees. However, private landowners may have different ideas about trees—some may find trees desirable while others may consider them nuisances or not give them any thought at all. Windsor’s UFMP will consider strategies to encourage private landowners to take better care of their trees and plant new trees on their properties, ensuring that more community residents and other landowners become stewards of the urban forest on their lands.

    • Limited awareness and engagement: Residents may not be aware of the need to maintain trees or protect them during construction, and may not be aware of urban forest stewardship opportunities across the city. New and innovative stewardship opportunities that are not currently available to community members may help to support the health and sustainability of the urban forest. The UFMP will consider strategies to build awareness about the urban forest and engage more community members in planting and caring for trees across Windsor.

    The UFMP will outline a long-term vision for Windsor’s urban forest and establish goals, objectives, targets and actions to achieve this vision while addressing the significant challenges facing the city’s trees.

    If the UFMP is adopted, does that mean I won’t be able to maintain or remove trees on my property anymore?


    Trees in public places, such as streets and City parks, are protected against injury and removal by By-law 135-2004 – “Trees on Highways”. However, there is no by-law regulating tree management or removal on private properties in Windsor.

    While Windsor’s UFMP will consider strategies to encourage and enhance tree protection on public and private lands in the city, it will not regulate or prohibit tree management or removal on private lands if adopted.

    I have a problem with a City-owned tree in my neighbourhood – will this plan help?

    Windsor’s UFMP will include strategies to enhance tree maintenance—such as inspection, pruning, risk and pest management, and removal and replacement—on public lands including streets, parks, and natural areas. Over time, these will result in healthier trees that live longer, grow larger, and contribute more benefits to the community.

    However, all individual public tree service requests should continue to be reported to Windsor City Services via 311. Trees on private property are the maintenance responsibility of the property owner.