Creating Resiliency Through Biodiversity in Durham Region

There are countless benefits to enhancing biodiversity. LEAF’s naturalization planting events assist in recreating diverse, sustainable and resilient urban forests. Through increasing plant diversity, LEAF protects public lands and urban forests for future generations, while helping connect people to their local environments and to each other. These events are crucial to creating and sustaining healthy environments.


This fall, LEAF hosted three planting events in Whitby and Oshawa and as a result, almost 1250 native trees and shrubs were introduced into the landscape. LEAF was joined by over 200 participants from in and around Durham Region. In addition to the event participants, we were supported by LEAF volunteers and staff members from each municipality to transform public lands into diverse and sustainable urban forests. All the tree and shrub species planted were native to promote sustainability and resiliency in these ecosystems. By increasing the biodiversity of trees and shrubs, we are also limiting the overall vulnerability to invasive species.


The last two planting events of the season took place at Russett Park in Oshawa. Russett Park has recently undergone mass tree removal because of the invasive emerald ash borer beetle (Agrilus planipennis). As the former forest was predominantly ash trees, the entire area was clear-cut because of the severity of the infestation. Emerald ash borers cause fatal damage to ash trees, and when infestations are left untreated, can result in significant dieback. Therefore, it was important that our planting favoured sustainability through the introduction of a diversity of native tree and shrub species, to hopefully prevent any further clearcutting and to increase the longevity of this park for future generations. It was clear that the members of the community who participated in the planting events loved that space and wanted to see it thrive again, which was very uplifting.



My time as a Naturalization Assistant at LEAF has allowed me to engage meaningfully, not only with urban forestry and naturalization, but also with members of the communities where we planted. Tackling large environmental issues can be a heavy, isolating experience, but being at LEAF has allowed me to chip away at these challenges in a real, tangible way with such an engaged and participatory community. My passion for this work has been renewed by working alongside others out there fighting the same fight.

Visit our volunteer page to join LEAF in future naturalization planting events and help tackle the environmental challenges facing our urban forests.


Alicia McNutt is the Naturalization Assistant at LEAF.

These planting events are funded by Ontario Power Generation, the Ontario Trillium Foundation and TD Friends of the Environment Foundation and supported by the City of Oshawa, Town of Whitby and the Regional Municipality of Durham.