Institutional greenspaces such as golf courses, cemeteries, military bases, hospitals, and university campuses are not generally revered for their ecological integrity. The existence of golf courses in particular has been heavily debated due to widespread perceptions of these spaces as environmentally degrading. Though much of the total area of golf courses is occupied by heavily manicured lawns, Canadian golf courses tend to be well treed and thus show significant potential to enhance forest coverage and contribute to the conservation of native tree species when established on previously unforested land. To explore this potential, a tree inventory was carried out on an inner-city golf course in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and findings compared to an earlier inventory of more naturalized (i.e., ingrowth) forest areas in the same city. Based in the Acadian Forest Region, this case study used the characteristics of a healthy and mature Acadian Forest as a model for ecological integrity. It was found that both the golf course and the ingrowth populations were largely representative of a mixedwood Acadian forest. Likewise, both populations were in a similar stage of regeneration and exhibited similar stresses. These results suggest that if improved forest management approaches are employed, golf courses will effectively strengthen the ecological integrity of urban forests. This is an especially important finding in the climate change era when tree populations are likely to be subjected to new environmental stressors which may be alleviated via the human intervention that is available on managed lands such as institutional greenspaces.
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