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Parks, Recreation, & Culture » Trees - Urban Forestry » Stormwater Trees

Stormwater Trees

A collaborative research project based at Thompson Rivers University


What we do know:

  • Urban watercourses are being degraded by post-storm peak flows (and storms are intensifying in our region, the Interior of British Columbia).
  • Development in urban watersheds means more impervious surfaces and hydrological disconnect.
  • Some trees may reduce the impact of runoff on stream habitat and water quality, but others may not.
  • Various species intercept up to 60% of rain falling on them in North and West Vancouver.¹

Run Off Figure 1. What if urban trees reappeared in the bottom two scenarios?² This study will quantify various trees' production of stemflow (rain funnelled down the trunk).

What we didn't know:

  • How do stemflow, canopy interception, and evaporation work in Kamloops' semi-arid climate?
  • How do these processes vary with storm qualities and physical characteristics of urban tree species commonly planted in Kamloops?
  • How much could runoff be reduced or groundwater recharge increased by planting certain trees?

How we explored these questions:

  • Two-year study looking at 40 deciduous trees of 22 different species at McArthur Island Park in Kamloops over at least 30-40 rainfall events
  • Application of relevant models to extrapolate results to watershed scale
  • Public- and private-sector collaboration to ensure applicability of findings

What are the benefits?

  • Better understanding of trees' role as a critical tool in the integrated stormwater management toolkit, specifically for these species in the semi-arid BC Interior
  • Estimates of economic and environmental benefits to support planning and design decisions
  • Groundwork for further research at the site, neighbourhood, and watershed scales

Thanks to our valued sponsors and collaborators:

Thompson Rivers University Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada Golder Associates Urban Systems Ltd University of Victoria The Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC

TD Friends of the Environment Real Estate Board of BC

We need volunteers!
Find out how you can become part of our team.

1 Asadian, Y. and M. Weiler. 2009. A new approach in measuring rainfall interception by urban trees in coastal British Columbia. Water Qual. Res. J. Can. 44(1):16-25.
2 Image Source:

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