Alexander Yoshiki - Urban Forest Champion

Alexander Yoshiki first volunteered with LEAF in September 2008 and has since volunteered with us in a variety of ways. Our Program Manager, Kim De Lallo, interviews Alexander about his experience and his continuing interest in supporting the work that LEAF does in the community.


How did you first become interested in the urban forest?

I moved to Toronto from Aurora in 2001 and after two years I felt stressed out and I didn’t know why.  I started walking along the Kay Gardiner Beltline and I felt rejuvenated, even in the summer heat as it was at least ten degrees cooler.  It was later when volunteering with LEAF that I found out – the beltline is just part of the urban forest and I realized how important it was for my well-being.


How did you find out about LEAF and have you been involved?

It was on that walk along the beltline that one day I came across the Brick Works and in 2006 I saw Evergreen’s plan for it.  I always took nature for granted growing up in Aurora, however, recent documentaries like An Inconvenient Truth came out which made me want to do my part in helping nature.  It was through Evergreen and their association with Toronto’s Community Stewardship Program that I was introduced to the work that LEAF does via their annual tree tour with that program.  I started volunteering at some events with LEAF and took their Tree Tenders course. Over the years I have gone door to door talking about LEAF’s Backyard Tree Planting Program and helped break ground in the St. Clair Urban Forest Demonstration Garden which I still tend.


Please share an interesting story or memorable moment from your experience with LEAF.

I love the parties that LEAF puts on and at one Best Forest Friends Social I bid on a sapling from Alexander Muir’s Maple Leaf Forever tree.  I live in an apartment and when I won, I was wondering what on Earth would I do with a Silver Maple tree.  As I love being at the Brick Works, I gave it to the Toronto Community Stewardship Program for planting with my stewardship team.  What I especially liked was how three like-minded organizations worked together to get the Silver Maple in the ground. LEAF delivered it to Evergreen’s garden market where it was cared for until my stewardship team could plant it.


What does the urban forest mean to you and what message would you like to share with others to encourage them to become involved?

The urban forest means the ability to step away from the concrete world that I work and live in and return to the cleanse of nature.  It means being able to get exercise along the beltline trail without overheating or choking on car exhaust.  My message is to not take the urban forest for granted for if you can educate people on it and/or help fight for it and/or build and maintain it – no matter how trapped you may feel in the concrete jungle, nature will always be just a few steps away.



Kim De Lallo is the Program Manager at LEAF.


Become a LEAF volunteer.


LEAF offers a subsidized Backyard Tree Planting Program for private property.  The program is supported by The City of Toronto, The Regional Municipality of York, The City of Markham, The Town of Newmarket, The Town of Ajax, Ontario Power Generation and Toronto Hydro. For details on how you can participate, visit