Monday, June 14, 2010

City celebrates BirthPlace Forest program's legacy

It was Calgary’s largest birthday party yesterday as thousands of Calgarians celebrated the births of their babies with a visit to the latest BP BirthPlace Forest.

Today’s ceremony also marked the conclusion of Calgary’s BP BirthPlace Forest program, and provided the partners – BP Canada Energy Company, The City of Calgary Parks, Golden Acre Garden Sentres Ltd. and Alberta Health Services-Calgary – with an opportunity to acknowledge the legacy this successful program has created.

“This program has allowed us to expand our urban forest in a way that would not have been possible without our partners,” said Russell Friesen, Urban Forestry Coordinator, The City of Calgary Parks. “We are thankful for this partnership which we are proud to say has enabled the planting of over 54,000 trees to Calgary’s urban forest over the past nine years. It has been an incredible success and although the program in its current form will end this year, the legacy of these forests will live on for many years to come.”

“At BP, we are so proud of how much the program has contributed to Calgary’s urban forests. We hope that Calgary families will grow their appreciation of the environment through continued enjoyment of the BP BirthPlace Forests as they mature in the coming years,” said Anita Perry, BP Canada Vice President, Communications and External Affairs. “This lasting legacy of more than 50,000 trees is a reminder of the importance of the environment and the need for urban forests.”

The BP BirthPlace Forest partnership funding agreement between BP Canada and The City of Calgary ended December 31, 2009 and the 2009 forest at Southland Park is the final forest under the current program. The partners are taking this time to evaluate and explore future opportunities.

The original goals of the BP BirthPlace Forest program, including educating Calgarians about the importance of Calgary's urban forest and increasing a sense of connection to, ownership of, and pride about the health of our urban forest, will continue to be supported by the nine BP BirthPlace forests as they mature in coming years.

The partners encourage all Calgarians to visit the nine forests and hope that families will continue to make a tradition of taking their babies as they grow to visit these forests in order to build children's appreciation of the environment at a young age.

In 2000, The City of Calgary and BP Canada Energy Company agreed to invest and participate in The City’s “Forever Green” project – a project designed to encourage Calgary communities to plant trees in Calgary’s neighbourhood communities. Through this agreement, the BP BirthPlace Forest program was born.

Together with Alberta Health Services (Calgary Zone) and Golden Acre Garden Centres Ltd., the partners have since seen over 54,000 trees planted at nine sites.

This unique initiative has created a living legacy for Calgary’s newborns; tied the growth of young families to the growth of Calgary’s trees; and fostered a greater awareness and appreciation of our environment among Calgarians of all social, cultural and economic backgrounds.

BP BirthPlace Forest directly links the growth of our children with the health and growth of our tree population. Through BP BirthPlace Forest, Calgarians can positively demonstrate pride and community spirit. The result is a lasting legacy whereby the communities’ urban forest canopy continues to grow while greenhouse emissions are reduced.

BP BirthPlace Forests:

2001 - Elliston Park 17 Ave and 60 St. SE 7,600 trees planted
2002 - Silver Springs Silver Springs Gate NW 7,000 trees planted
2003 - McCall Lake Golf Course 1600 – 32 Ave NE 6,000 trees planted
2004 - Blackfoot 58 Ave and 12 St. SE 6,000 trees planted
2005 - McCall Lookout 34-38 Ave and 11A St. NE 5,500 trees planted
2006 - Heritage Grove 5900 Deerfoot Tr. SE 6,000 trees planted
2007 - Beddington 300 Beddington Tr. NE 6,000 trees planted
2008 - Fish Creek 15440 Bow Bottom Tr. SE 6,000 trees planted
2009 – Southland Deerfoot Tr. & Southland Dr. S.E. 4,500 trees planted

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