Tree lovers, this one’s for you. In an effort to increase Vancouver’s essential forest canopy, the Park Board is giving out 250 free trees to residents of “canopy-deficient” neighbourhoods. Bottom line? If you live in Sunset or Victoria-Fraserview, you can register to receive a free tree to plant on your property this March.

The new pilot program, called ‘Branch Out,’ will help create a healthier urban forest and support climate justice across the city. According to the Park Board, the lowest canopy neighbourhoods fall under the VanPlay Equity Initiative Zones, which are measured as areas with less than 15% canopy cover.

“Today’s changing climate has created an increasingly challenging environment for people and trees in Vancouver,” says Joe McLeod, Manager of Urban Forestry. “Planting and caring for trees on their property is one of the most important things a person can do to help support their community and environment through weather extremes; bringing shade in the summer and providing wind-breaks in winter.”

How it works

Starting Tuesday, February 14th, residents of the above neighbourhoods can register their interest in receiving a tree. The Park Board is offering a selection of resilient, adaptable trees that do well in Vancouver soils, namely plums, figs, spruce, lilac, and ginkgos.

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After those interested complete an online questionnaire, the Park Board will deliver free trees to 250 residents in March, when the ground is optimal for planting.

And if your thumb isn’t the greenest – don’t worry, Park Board staff will help with choosing the ideal spot and offer growing tips. Just be sure you’re ready to commit to the long-term care of the young tree as it matures.

Note that those who do not own their own property must seek permission from their landlord before registering their interest.

The Urban Forestry Strategy involves a long-term vision to expand and manage a diverse spread of trees across Vancouver. Their ultimate goal? Expanding the urban canopy covering the city from 23% to 30% by 2050.

This new initiative is just one way the Urban Forestry team is working towards this goal. Those interested can read up on the strategy and ways they can get involved on the City of Vancouver’s website.