Enhancing Biodiversity in Markham’s Grandview Park

LEAF held a planting event in Markham this June, increasing native tree and shrub diversity in a beautiful woodlot. Long-time LEAF volunteer, Peter Cox, has dedicated years of stewardship to this woodland area in the company of other Markham residents. LEAF welcomed the opportunity to boost local efforts with an understory planting event! Our Naturalization Assistant, Alexandra Catibog, describes her time spent working with this incredible community.


On a warm Sunday in early June, LEAF hosted our final spring planting event at Grandview Park Woodlot, one of Markham’s many urban greenspaces. LEAF staff and volunteers planted ten different species of native trees and shrubs to increase the plant diversity. By the end of the day, 37 trees and 102 shrubs had found a new home nestled in the woodlot’s understory. 

This planting event was unique as we were planting within an established natural space instead of on mowed grass. So, why  plant in a place that already has lots of trees? 


During my tour of the two-acre woodlot, I started to understand why this project was beneficial. While this forest is diligently tended to by the Grandview Areas Residents Association (GARA), it has seen many losses in tree and shrub species because of storms and invasive species, particularly the Emerald Ash Borer. As I assessed the diversity of the site, native chokeberry (Aronia melanocarpa) shrubs seemed to dominate most of the area. Having mostly native species in a forest is great but increasing the species diversity comes with a wide range of benefits. These include providing a variety of food and shelter for wildlife, improving the forest’s resiliency against urban stressors, and supporting more ecosystem services like pollution absorption. Each plant species has its own role to play in a forest, so increasing diversity will lead to even greater benefits overall!


I was able to meet Peter Cox, the volunteer who helped make this event a reality. He took the initiative to connect us with the GARA and helped organize the other volunteers. The City of Markham was able to provide us with hemp mats and water for the trees. An enthusiastic bunch of high school volunteers, many who had never planted before, got the plants in the ground at a remarkable speed, and the trees and shrubs looked great! It was so exciting to see that the sense of community in Markham was as strong as ever. It makes me look toward the future, where LEAF will continue to support  many more communities naturalizing our urban settings.


If you would like to help with our community planting efforts, become a LEAF volunteer



Alexandra Catibog is a Naturalization Assistant at LEAF.

This blog is the third in a series that highlights our naturalization planting work in York Region.   

This planting event was held in partnership with the City of Markham and supported by the Regional Municipality of York, OPG Regional Biodiversity Program and Trees For Life.