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We Need Native Trees, and They Need Us!

By Eric Davies, Ateqah Khaki, Local Forest Ecologist


Friday, May 6



Language: English 

Area: Downtown

Theme: Advocacy, Environment

Accessibility: Family-friendly, Wheelchair-friendly, Bicycles Welcome


Join urban forestry expert Eric Davies for a walk and talk discussing the importance of our urban canopy, and the decline (and resurgence!) of native trees in Toronto.


The walk will take place in the Palmerston Area neighbourhood, which is known for its tree-lined streets, and mature canopy of trees. In fact, almost 30% percent of the city of Toronto is comprised of urban forest; an essential part of the city’s ecosystem that provides critical benefits to people and wildlife alike.


Impressively, Toronto ranks among the top five cities globally when it comes to our canopy cover. But the rate of urban development and the prevalence of non-native species put native trees at risk. All hope is not lost, and there is a growing movement to protect, preserve and plant more native trees.


This walk will discuss the important link between native trees and biodiversity, and provide practical tips on how each and everyone of us can play a part in protecting native trees in Toronto.


We will begin our walk at Healey Willan Park, which is home to many of the trees commonly found in Toronto – both native and non-native. Participants will learn how to identify some of these common species, as well as some of the characteristics that make a tree healthy (or unhealthy).


Next, we will visit Eric’s native tree nursery on Palmerston Boulevard where we’ll learn about his work to preserve native oak trees. This innovative “nursery” which spans across front lawns and laneways is a living testament to the fact that it is quite possible to grow high-quality native trees in our own neighborhoods. These trees cost almost nothing to grow, have a much better survival rate than trees that are not grown from local seed, and provide a host of biodiversity benefits.


Finally, we will visit one of the oldest living native Burr Oak trees in Toronto, which is older than the city itself. As we ground ourselves in its majestic presence, we will learn concrete actions we can take to protect individual trees, and preserve native species. Participants will have an opportunity to take home locally-collected acorns to grow their own native tree, and can learn more about adopting or fostering a locally-grown native tree on their own property or in their neighborhood.​

  • Walk Start Location: Healey Willan Park (at Euclid Avenue & Ulster Street). We will be standing near the Gingko tree close to the entrance on the East side of the park

  • Nearest Public Transit: Streetcar to Bathurst & Ulster / Streetcar to College & Euclid / 10 min walk from Bathurst Station

  • Walk End Location: Near the large Burr Oak tree on Chapel Hospice Lane (South of Ulster Street)

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