(August 24th, 2019, Toronto – For Immediate Release)
For the past five months, two Toronto communities have hosted the Young Urban Forest Leaders (YUFL) program. With the purpose of increasing canopy coverage and interest in stewardship, the YUFL program is working in the east-end neighbourhood, The Pocket, and the west-end neighbourhoods, Bloordale Village and Brockton Triangle.
The YUFL program is a training and mentorship opportunity for youths between 18 and 29 years old which aims to provide hands-on professional development to individuals underrepresented in the fields of urban forestry and arboriculture, such as women and people of colour. This program is offered by LEAF (Local Enhancement and Appreciation of Forests) in collaboration with Park People and is supported by funds from Every Tree Counts, a partnership between Toronto Parks and Trees Foundation and the City of Toronto.
Since April, the program participants have been attending weekly training sessions while working closely with their community partners towards the goal of increasing canopy coverage and community engagement in urban forest stewardship.
What makes the two host communities so special? First and foremost community interest. In order for the efforts of the youths to be effective, there must be local community support and engagement. Also, both areas have many mature trees that will be reaching the end of their lifespan soon. Ensuring there are young trees to replace those that are lost is very important.
“Each Toronto neighbourhood is unique and comes with its own challenges and opportunities. That’s why our Young Urban Forest Leaders work so closely with local community groups to provide the right kind of support for each area,” says Erin MacDonald, Community Programs Manager at LEAF.
Throughout the summer, the youths have facilitated tree care information sessions, hosted native shrub giveaways and even introduced a special planting incentive – a $100 rebate on a native tree planted through the LEAF Backyard Tree Planting Program.
“It’s been really interesting for me to participate in this program and see all that it takes to mobilize a community towards a common goal. It’s hard work! I really look forward to seeing what kind of actions come out of the work we’ve been doing,” says Rabib Naim, a Young Urban Forest Leader working in The Pocket.
Saturday, August 24th marked the final tree tour and shrub giveaway hosted out of MacGregor Park in Brockton. The Pocket had its own event at Phin Park earlier in the week. Residents have until September 30thto take advantage of the special $100 rebate to plant a native tree in their yard.
Community Programs Manager, LEAF
416-413-9244 x12 | erin[at]yourleaf.org
Executive Director, LEAF
416-413-9244 x17 | janet[at]yourleaf.org
LEAF (Local Enhancement and Appreciation of Forests) is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the protection and improvement of the urban forest. Beginning in 1996, LEAF has been designing and delivering successful planting and stewardship programs, as well as education and training programs across the City of Toronto. www.yourleaf.org.