The Urban Forest Lab was established by Tropos in 2021 as a space for generating new and innovative approaches to conservation in urban areas. As an interdisciplinary initiative, the work builds on previous work in Lesia's practice to bridge art and science and foster new approaches to creative engagement, ecology, and social practice that enhance the urban forest.
BIG, mature trees provide critical ecological benefits in cities. Urban trees improve physical and mental health, mitigate temperature, sequester carbon, absorb water, and reduce pollution. Green space is the most important environmental asset for reducing the risk factors of climate change in urban areas. Despite this, many trees are at risk globally due to urban development and climate change. Trees in our region, such as Northern Red Oak, are vulnerable in cities and may begin to show signs of stress as climate conditions shift.
Building Conservation Networks is a creative urban design and public art project conceived by Lesia in 2018 that identifies historic, monumental trees as key anchors in the ecological and cultural life of the city. This large-scale art and urban design project presents a strategy for restoration through new models of conservation that can enhance the urban forest. These landmark, matriarchal trees contain hidden information in their roots that can give us information about times past and nurture new saplings to foster stronger and more resilient urban forests. Through mapping the location of these pre-settlement trees across the city, The Urban Forest Lab is laying the groundwork to create a more ecologically resilient city that can withstand coming changes in the climate.
Author and Artist - Lesia Mokrycke
Sponsor - We acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts / Nous remercions le Conseil des arts du Canada de son soutien
Community Partner and Indigenous Specialist - Paul General, Former Head of Six Nations Eco-Centre
Field Assistants - Sophie Williams, Elizabeth Ward
Special Thanks - Cathy Plotz at Hamilton Conservation Authority, Kathy Renwald with CBC Hamilton, Education team at the Royal Botanical Gardens, City of Hamilton Culture and Heritage Department, Hamilton Naturalists Club, Downtown AM Rotary Club of Hamilton, Downtown Sparrow, Justin Chandler at TVO, and each member of the Hamilton community who has contributed a tree to this project.