Tree Tour explored Birds, Bees and Biodiversity in our Communities
(June 5, 2014, Toronto, ON – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE) What role do birds and bees play in our urban forest? How can our neighbourhoods better support the wildlife that lives in our city? On Tuesday, June 3, over 60 people came out to explore these questions during LEAF’s Birds, Bees and Trees Tour in the Annex neighbourhood. The group also discussed the impact of development and large buildings on birds and trees, and the way that a diversity of plant and animal life can make our communities healthier.
Participants on the tour learned about the value of our urban forest and the threats it faces in the long-term. “Trees and their canopies play an essential role in the city, both for people and for other organisms we value,” said Dr. Sandy Smith, Professor of Forestry at the University of Toronto. The tour also addressed the significance of biodiversity in the city. Biodiversity is essential to our long-term well-being, Smith explained, because it “underpins both ecosystem and human health, and this is especially true in cities where most Canadians live today.” She stressed that poor urban design can affect the numbers and types of plants and animals that live here.
This tour was timely because it is currently bird migration season, and there are lots of avian visitors in town. “Toronto is situated on a very busy migratory corridor. The sheer variety and number of different species that pass through and over Toronto is truly amazing,” said Paloma Plant, Program Coordinator at FLAP Canada. However, Toronto’s buildings can be a hazard for migrating birds as reflective or transparent glass creates a lethal illusion for birds that are more used to woods and meadows. “Bird and window collisions happen everywhere, not just downtown,” Plant added.
The tour ended with a visit to some rooftop bee hives at the University of Toronto. Participants donned bee suits and were guided by hive manager Pieter Basedow, of U of T B.E.E.S. (Beekeeping Education Enthusiast Society). While some were checking out the bees on the roof, Gillian Leitch, Homegrown National Park Ranger and Toronto Beekeepers Cooperative member, offered others the opportunity to taste some local honey made by urban bees. “Honey bees turn nectar into honey by visiting a selection of flowering plants. This means that each honey the beekeeper extracts is a completely custom blend,” Leitch explained. “Sometimes the beekeeper will extract the honey frames when the bees are visiting a specific flower or flowering tree, resulting in honey varietals like lavender, clover, buckwheat, linden and many more.”
Leitch suggested that the key to a healthy human and wildlife community lies in planting native species. “Using more native plants in our gardens, along with focusing on bee-friendly practices and conserving and creating habitat, will result in better health for both honey and wild bees,” Leitch said. To support biodiversity and habitat, LEAF offers native trees and habitat-creating garden kits through the Backyard Tree Planting Program. ”
For more information on LEAF or this event, visit www.yourleaf.org.
Photo opportunities and interviews available upon request.
Field Operations Coordinator, LEAF
416-413-9244 x.16 (office) | brenna[at]yourleaf.org
Executive Director, LEAF
416-413-9244 x.17 (office) | janet[at]yourleaf.org