CHATHAM-KENT, ONT. -- The Lower Thames Valley Conservation Authority wants to know which trees in and around ‘The Maple City’ stand out as unique enough for special recognition.

“Any tree in your community that is significant in size, historic value, culture and local folklore,” said conservation lands and services manager, Randall VanWagner.

VanWagner has nominated 10 local trees to be included in the Heritage Tree Project, with Forest Ontario.

He believes the initiative could be a tourism opportunity and says anyone can nominate a tree in the community, through the organization’s website.

“My goal for this project is to have these trees nominated and then compile them on a map so people can go on a self-guided tour and learn about these trees,” VanWagner said.

Of the trees nominated includes an American White Elm on Queen Street in Chatham, in front of the former Canada Business College.

“It turns out Tom Thompson, the famous Canadian painter from The Group of Seven, actually stayed in that apartment building right in front of it,” VanWagner said. “Tom was there taking an art course. I thought that was really interesting and he most likely sketched that tree! It’s just kind of a neat tie in to all the stories.”

Other nominees include trees gifted from The King of England, near Port Alma. A Shumard oak, considered to be the biggest tree in Chatham, located in Tecumseh Park and a pair of ginkgo trees, growing from seed since the 1800s when they were brought from China.

VanWager tells CTV News, tree cover in farm-rich Chatham-Kent sits at a low six per cent, and hopes more heritage nominations will reveal more significant trees to protect.

“We should be preserving more and thinking about it and planting more,” he said. “What I really found interesting were the stories I wasn’t aware of.”