UVic Expert refutes mayor’s claim that climate change is putting stress on Victoria Cherry blossoms

UVic Expert refutes mayor's claim that climate change is putting stress on Victoria Cherry blossoms

WATCH: Opposition is growing to the controversial policy being implemented by the city of Victoria that could spell the end for the iconic cherry blossoms. The mayor defends the policy citing climate change as the reason behind it but As Luisa Alvarez reports a Uvic expert says science doesn’t support that claim.

The beauty of the cherry blossom has graced Victoria for over 80 years. In 1937 the Japanese community had a float at the 75th-anniversary parade for the city of Victoria and it won first place. with the $300 prize money, 1,000 cherry blossom trees were bought and gifted back to the city to plant along boulevards.

But now we may see fewer cherry blossoms because of a policy to only plant native species once trees die and need to be replaced.

READ MORE: Councillor warns iconic cherry blossoms will be phased out because of the city’s tree management plan.

“It would be a shame to lose the cherry and plum blossom trees which are so iconic to the city and add so much beauty,” said President of The Victoria Nikkei Cultural Society Tsugio Kurushima.

And he wants to remind people why they were planted in the first place. It wasn’t just for their beauty, they also serve a purpose.

“The native trees like the fir trees and maples back in the ’20s and thirties they were causing so much trouble with the sidewalks, buckling the sidewalks. The then superintendent of parks for the city decided they needed to find a species of trees that would be sidewalk friendly,” said Kurushima.

Mayor Lisa helps told CHEK News Sunday that the policy is in response to climate change

“We are starting to see the urban forest being stressed and we have a responsibility to plant species that are going to be here in the long term,” said Helps.

But Professor Dr. Patrick von Aderkas at the centre for forest biology at UVic says the claim that cherry blossoms are more prone to stresses of climate change than native species isn’t supported by science.

“It’s not a scientific issue at all. These trees will do very well. We expect to see actually fairly minor changes in Victoria in relation to climate change in short more rain warmer winters and the cherry’s are simply not threatened by that,” said Dr. von Aderkas.

Kurushima says it would be a shame to lose something so iconic to Victoria that also carries a deep cultural significance.

“Based on the e-mails that we are receiving and our members are receiving there are other citizens out there who are also opposed to this,” said Kurushima.

He says they won’t sit back quietly and watch them go and are building support against the decision.

Luisa AlvarezLuisa Alvarez

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