I'm happy to launch this blog following a very special day in Canadian tree history. For the past 15 years we’ve been working tirelessly to increase the urban forest canopy in Toronto and the surrounding region. We’ve carved out a home for all of the amazing stories we’ve gathered, heard and experienced since those early days of LEAF – and from here on out this is where you'll find them.
Back in 1996 Janet McKay was distributing seeds around central Toronto with a small group of volunteers. She realized that in order to increase canopy cover in our urban areas, her team had to encourage more planting on private property – in places the municipal planting programs could not reach. She began to see that there was an even greater potential to grow our urban forest through educating and engaging citizens with the issues they were discovering.
To take care of a tree, you must become familiar with the true burden it faces. And to understand why there are towering giants your favourite park but only spindly trees growing in another area, you need to look further than just the fallen leaves. Today Toronto's urban forest has over 10.2 million trees with an estimated structural value of over $7 billion dollars – and in the wake of dangerous exotic pests, it is more important than ever for us to work together to keep this vital city asset strong and vibrant for future generations.
At LEAF we have grown in geographic reach, the scope of our programs, and diversity of our supporters. Our stewardship and educational programs have empowered thousands to take action in their own communities, while our residential planting has provided more than 17,000 trees and shrubs across southern Ontario. We plan to use this space to tell the stories behind these figures and of the people that are so deeply connected to the work we do.
We believe our urban forests are one of the greatest resources that we share and it is our responsibility to care for them collectively. I look forward to hearing how these topics have impacted your own story. I encourage you to leave your comments and challenge you to take action to help us achieve our mission. We are a grassroots organization and it is only from our strong community base that we have been able to accomplish so much – I can't wait to see where we go from here...