Regent Park Tree Tour and Stewardship Event

I went on a tree tour with LEAF three years ago, and it made me realize that I knew nothing about the trees around me. After that tour, I made a point of getting a tree identification guide and learning about the trees in my neighbourhood. Since then I have grown passionate about Toronto’s urban forest and have had the chance to lead a tree tour along with Marika MacLean and Theri Reichlin as part of LEAF’s Young Urban Forest Leaders program.

 

The program gave me, along with several other young women, the chance to take part in LEAF’s Tree Tenders Training where we learned all about tree identification, tree health, stresses and tree care. We used this new knowledge to start an Adopt-a-Park-Tree program in Regent Park! To kick off the Adopt-a-Park-Tree program, we ran a stewardship and tree tour event on October 17 at Regent Park.

We started the event with some serious mulching! Regent Park has just over 200 trees and a team of hardworking volunteers from Friends of Regent Park, Cabbagetown ReLEAF, the surrounding community and beyond lent a hand to mulch 75 of them – that’s about one third of the park’s trees! 

 

 

It was fantastic to see the mulch pile keep shrinking as everyone came back and forth to fill their buckets and wheelbarrows. In no time we had finished the pile, and it was time for the tree tour.

 

 

Regent Park might lack large, old trees (most of the trees were planted in the last 2-3 years and they are all approximately the same age) but the park is full of interesting species and examples of the importance of proper tree care. The tour explored the stresses that park trees deal with – such as foot traffic, compaction and tree girdling (cutting off the trees vascular tissue, making transporting nutrients and water difficult for the tree) – along with ways to combat these issues through proper tree care.

 

Black Locust Thorns

 

I led a discussion at a stop in the northwest side of the park, where there are two black locust trees (Robinia pseudoacacia) side-by-side. We talked about how this neat species has thorns, edible flowers, and fixes nitrogen just like its relatives in the legume family.  We compared the two trees, as one is much happier looking than the other, and shared ideas on why this might be. Stresses like physical damage, insect holes and an abundance of weeds near the base of the tree were some of our guesses.

 

Presentation of mulching rakes

 

Near the end of the tour we got to hear from Emma and Fai from Cabbagetown ReLEAF who presented the Friends of Regent Park with two mulching rakes for future tree stewardship events as part of Regent Park’s Adopt-a-Park-Tree program. Next we heard from Friends of Regent Park about all the incredible projects they have on the go. Diane with Friends of Regent Park shared her personal experience of how the neighbourhood has been affected by the loss of mature tree canopy, and how Regent Park’s development over the decades has affected the community along with the trees in the neighbourhood. 

 

It was a great end to the tour; I left feeling excited about this community's connection to each other and to the park. I am positive that their enthusiasm for tree care and stewardship will help Regent Park’s trees grow to their full potential.

 

Overall this experience has taught me that I am passionate about urban forests, and that there is something so rewarding about teaching others about how they can care for natural spaces in their city.

 

Thanks again to Cabbagetown ReLEAF, and Friends of Regent Park for their amazing contributions to the community and enthusiasm towards trees! Another big thanks to David for capturing photos of the event!
 

 

The Young Urban Forest Leaders Program is supported by the City of Toronto Community Recreation Investment Program. LEAF’s Adopt-a-Park-Tree Program in Regent Park is supported by the City of Toronto Community Recreation Investment Program and the Rotary Club of Toronto.

 

Sammy Tangir recently completed LEAF's Young Urban Forest Leaders program and has been a LEAF volunteer since 2014. She is in her third year of the Environment and Urban Sustainability program at Ryerson University. Outside of YUFL and school she to loves to explore Toronto's natural spaces, learn about plants and practice her photography skills!