Calgary Zoo: Laying Down New Roots

Calgary, AB – As the ultimate urban forest, the Calgary Zoo boasts more than 7,000 trees in its care, according to its annual tree inventory. Just in the last three years, 440 large caliper deciduous trees and large conifers have been added to the zoo grounds to enrich its urban oasis.

“Most Calgarians think of the Calgary Zoo as strictly a haven for our over 900 animal residents, but what can be forgotten is the fact that the whole of the zoo is a garden,” says David Herrington, Senior Manager Horticulture and Grounds Services, Calgary Zoo. “Our tree canopy consists of more than 30 per cent of the area of the zoo island; while the north shore canopy reaches 47 percent, well exceeding the City’s Urban Forestry’s goal of 20 per cent coverage.”

With a commitment to protecting wild habitats for endangered species, the zoo is also dedicated to responsibly manage its environmental impact. The zoo’s forest plays a significant role in this pursuit as it not only enhances a visitor’s experience, but the volume of trees onsite sequesters significant C02, helping to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

A team of five professionally certified horticulturists, including an ISA certified arborist care for the gardens with the help of 19 staff and 20 volunteers. By deliberate horticulture planning and design, the zoo also invites wildlife, including many pollinators, to make the space their home. In this way, the vegetation provides nesting and overwintering sites for these essential and potentially endangered creatures.

To maintain the health of the trees and shrubs, the Horticulture Team also employs leading-edge practices including responsible supplemental irrigation, an Integrated Pest Management Program, judicious pruning, a fertility program and good soil management practices. As an additional benefit, produce from the fruit trees, such as sour cherries and crab apples, are provided to the Catering Team while browse are harvested for the animals in the zoo’s care.

The trees and gardens that comprise the Calgary Zoo are a long-term investment ensuring what is grown today will be enjoyed tomorrow.

Source: Calgary Zoo