Toronto resumes volunteer tree planting and forest stewardship program

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Ontario Construction News staff writer

Toronto’s Forestry Stewardship Program, a program that involves hands-on work by volunteers to support and encourage native biodiversity in various ecologically sensitive sites will resume activities by mid-August.

The goal of the program is to help restore the natural integrity of Toronto’s green spaces by planting trees, shrubs and wildflowers that will contribute to the growth of the urban forest. By participating in the program, volunteers:

  • Learn more about native trees, shrubs and invasive species
  • Learn how to plant a tree and other native plants
  • Participate in a wide-range of environmental stewardship activities
  • Meet new people, make new friendships and network within the community
  • Gain experience and develop leadership and interpersonal skills
  • Acquire documented volunteer hours

Participants work in teams, visiting a specific site once a week until September. The city expects to provide additional events throughout the fall to help restore our green spaces, reduce the impact of invasive species and keep our parks clean throughout the year.

“Torontonians have always displayed an interest in helping clean up our parks and green spaces. Despite the ongoing pandemic, the work required to tidy up our parks remains,” said Toronto mayor John Tory. “Our community stewardship volunteers will help us restore the remarkable nature found in our city and grow our urban forest for people and wildlife alike. By cleaning up our city’s parks and green spaces we can create an environment for residents to enjoy.”

Participants must be at least 14 years of age or be accompanied by legal guardian. Stewardship activities include weeding invasive and non-native plant species, planting native species, watering vegetation, mulching trees, collecting litter, maintaining bird boxes and building habitat brush bundles. Participants also monitor site-specific conditions including water chemistry and levels, birds, vegetation and aquatic animals.

The program was suspended in March in response to COVID-19. The Forestry Community Stewardship Program will resume this summer in a modified format to meet provincial restrictions and public health recommendations.

Participants should continue to follow Toronto Public Health’s advice to stay home when they are ill, wash hands often, practise physical distancing and wear a face covering or mask in all indoor public spaces and when physical distancing cannot be maintained. Volunteer involvement is critical to increasing public awareness of Toronto’s ecologically sensitive areas and sustaining them for future generations.

More information about the city’s ravine strategy is also available online.

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