Growing Whitby’s Urban Forest and Community

This fall, LEAF helped grow the urban forest in Durham Region by planting over 750 native trees and shrubs on public land. We partnered with the Township of Whitby to complete our first naturalization planting project in Whitby’s Rosedale Park. Our Naturalization Assistant, Elina Shahmirian, reflects on their planting experience.


This October, LEAF staff, volunteers and community members came together to plant 250 native trees and shrub for the first time in Whitby. Our naturalization efforts will not only enhance the park’s aesthetic appearance, but also provide important benefits to the environment and wider community. Naturalization planting supports native plant species as they compete against invasive species. These native trees and shrubs provide sustainable habitat and food sources for pollinator and wildlife species, encouraging local wildlife to thrive in the local area.

Rosedale Park is situated between residential homes and industrial buildings, making it an ideal location for naturalization planting. As the newly planted native trees and shrubs grow, they will provide a natural barrier for residents by decreasing noise levels, reducing dust particles and beautifying the park. 


Upon arrival at the planting site, most of the park consisted of mowed grass. It’s exciting to think that in close to 10 years’ time residents will be able to explore new recreational activities in the forest we helped establish in the park. As the naturalized area matures, community members will be able to enjoy the benefits of fresh air, shade and colourful sights of berries, flowers and leaves throughout the changing seasons.


Planting in Whitby was an incredible experience where I had the chance to contribute not only to the growing urban forest, but to the growing community as well! I was inspired working along passionate individuals and hearing stories from both past and present residents of the local area. I also felt an overwhelming sense of accomplishment taking part in creating a space where future generations will make their own memories to share. 


A special moment for me was hearing Councilor Drumm and her brother share their childhood memories growing up in the local neighborhood. It was a remarkable experience being part of a collective effort in improving our environment for both wildlife species and members of the community. Thanks to the dedicated LEAF staff, volunteers and community members, Rosedale Park has been transformed into an oasis for all to enjoy!

Even though we have completed our naturalization plantings for this year, we would love to have you join us in 2022 for more planting fun! To stay updated on future planting events, sign up for our LEAF News or check out our Events page



This blog is the first in a series that highlights our naturalization planting work in Durham Region. 

Elina Shahmirian is a Naturalization Assistant with LEAF. 

This planting event is funded by Ontario Power Generation and the Ontario Trillium Foundation and supported by the Town of Whitby and the Regional Municipality of Durham.