Greenway School a little greener with 51 new trees

A West End school added some greenery to its playground Wednesday, helping replace some of the mature trees slated to be chopped due to Dutch elm disease.

Students at the West End elementary school spent Wednesday planting 51 trees, including trembling aspen, burr oak and crabapple. The trees are the beginnings of the Greenway School Community Forest, a green space open to students and community members.

“We have this lovely space. Unfortunately, it was just nothing but grass,” said Nic Skrabec, a teacher at the school who helped organize the tree-planting day.

Skrabec noted that the area around Burnell and St. Matthews has lost many elm trees in recent years, and that the remaining elms on school property are all set to be removed. The new trees are a variety of species to avoid a similar fate.

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“There’s a variety of trees that will provide shade at different heights, throughout different generations,” Skrabec said. “Some that will provide shade in the next 10 to 20 years, some that will finally reach their peak in the next 40 to 60, 80 years … but unfortunately, elm is one that we stayed away from because they would just have to be removed right away, too.”

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Staff from the Green Action Centre, a local environmental social enterprise, helped students plant the young trees and cover the bases with mulch.

“We’ve been seeing the effects of climate change already, especially in inner-city neighborhoods where there’s less green space,” Green Action Centre waste reduction program co-ordinator Kristen Malec said. “Communities in these areas tend to be more at risk of climate change-related effects.”

Nonprofit Green Communities Canada provided funding for the project through its Living Cities Canada Fund, which supports community green infrastructure projects. The West End Resource Centre, Trees Winnipeg, Greendrop and Manitoba Eco-Network are also helping with the Community Forest project.

“Adding a lot of green space to an area can really have a positive effect on the whole neighborhood, just in terms of cooling and shade and the other ecosystem services that come from having a variety of trees,” Alexandra Caporali with Manitoba Eco-Network said.

The tree planting event wraps up with the school hosting a community barbeque, where community members can admire their new neighbourhood trees.

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