This roundtable will address how changing and diversifying urban populations in Canada view, use, benefit from, and impact urban forests. Our goal is to initiate interdisciplinary knowledge exchange between participants and jointly plan a partnership to focus on identified gaps and research ideas. The event will bring together Canadian and international academics, policy makers and practitioners of (rural and urban forestry, sociology, geography, urban planning, public health, traditional and sacred botany, urban agriculture, landscape architecture and political ecology. We hope to forge new transdisciplinary research alliances through engaging social scientists, landscape architects and public health experts.
The World Health Organization (WHO, 2016) has presented access to urban green space as an important public health indicator. Access to green space for all, including for marginalised groups such as children, the elderly and immigrants, is also part of the United Nations’ Development Goals (United Nations, 2015). Urban forests can also act as meeting spaces, helping with building social cohesion between residents of diverse backgrounds.However, different urban dwellers have different demands, needs, and preferences when it comes to urban forests, and urban nature in general. Urban forestry, defined as the planning and management of forests, trees and associated vegetation in urban areas, needs to recognise the challenges and opportunities associated with multicultural societies. Although Canada’s urban populations are growing and becoming more diverse, we lack knowledge about this increasing diversity, and its impact on how urban forests and forests in the urban-rural interface, are used and shaped. This knowledge is needed for more inclusive decision-making on Canada’s urban forests.