Six Thousand Trees and Shrubs for Public Lands in York and Durham Regions


Toronto, ON - The non-profit organization LEAF (Local Enhancement and Appreciation of Forests) will plant 6,000 native trees and shrubs on public lands across York and Durham Regions over the next three years. Made possible with support from Ontario Power Generation’s Regional Biodiversity Program, as well as support from the Regional Municipality of York, the City of Richmond Hill and other participating municipalities, LEAF will begin work this fall by planting on three sites located in Richmond Hill. The plantings will convert 5,651 square metres of land that was previously covered by turf, occupied by invasive species or otherwise of limited biodiversity value, into viable habitat for birds, pollinators and other wildlife. Durham Region plantings will begin next spring.

In addition to increasing biodiversity, local community members will also benefit from this project. Having access to trees and green spaces has been linked to improved mood and health, higher property values and much more. Community members can also join LEAF’s volunteer program to participate in future planting and stewardship activities.

To learn more about this project or for ways to become involved, visit


“Local wildlife and local plant species co-evolved here and depend on each other to thrive. By planting more native trees and shrubs on public lands, we’re increasing essential food and shelter that wildlife need to thrive. What’s more, we’re purposely planting in high-impact locations where our efforts will have added impacts, like extending existing wooded areas or improving water filtration around stormwater retention ponds.”
-    Janet McKay, Executive Director, LEAF
“This fall, in order to comply with safety guidelines, we are limiting participation in the plantings to small groups of LEAF staff and trained volunteers. However, we hope to invite anyone interested in becoming a LEAF volunteer, to join us at our plantings next spring!”
-    Erin McDonald, Community Program Manager, LEAF
“Here at OPG, we believe it is our responsibility to protect and nurture Ontario’s environment and unique biodiversity both for the benefit of future generations, and because it’s the right thing to do. In managing our sites, we strive to maintain and enhance significant natural areas and have partnered with recognized biodiversity stewards such as LEAF to protect Ontario’s most vulnerable natural landscapes.”
-     John Beauchamp, Director - Environment, Health & Safety, Ontario Power Generation 

“York Region’s investment recognizes the environmental, social and health benefits provided by the Region’s greenspace and the importance of working toward increasing our canopy cover to 40% by 2051. Forests and the tree canopy are vitally important to all aspects of our lives, at all ages, and impact everything from lower energy costs to healthy living.”

-     Wayne Emmerson, Chairman and CEO, The Regional Municipality of  York

“Richmond Hill is committed to protecting and enhancing our green spaces. This investment through our Community Stewardship Program will help to increase our tree canopy, benefit our local natural environment and create places for residents to connect with nature, now and for many years to come.”
-    Dave Barrow, Mayor, City of Richmond Hill


  • OPG’s Regional Biodiversity Program provides funding to multi-year projects related to reforestation, wetlands conservation, lakes and rivers, and grasslands and has been a central part of their overall biodiversity program for over 20 years.
  • York Region plans to increase their canopy cover from 31% (2017) to 40% by 2051.
  • Durham Region identifies protecting, enhancing and where appropriate restoring significant natural heritage and environmentally sensitive areas in their strategic plan.
  • Sites for naturalization are/will be selected in collaboration with municipal governments to ensure maximum positive impact to the local environment and community.
  • The abundance and diversity of native and invasive plant species will be monitored at each site ahead of the stewardship activities and for up to five years following them. 
  • As part of this project, in addition to naturalizing public land, LEAF will also promote the planting of native species on private property by engaging with local community through a series of educational events and native shrub giveaways.



© 2020 Brian Milward / LEAF
Caption: LEAF staff, Janice Lam, planting at Humber Flats Eco Park
© 2020 Janice Lam / LEAF
Caption: Trees and shrubs to be planted at Humber Flats Eco Park


Daniela Serodio, Marketing and Communications Manager, LEAF
Phone: 416-413-9244  Cell: 416-826-8380