Toronto's Trees Getting Back to Their Roots

    Innovative Project Restores Native Tree Diversity in Toronto

    TORONTO, May 19 /CNW/ - The City of Toronto has partnered with Trees
Ontario in an innovative project in gene conservation to plant native trees in
their original neighbourhoods. The Tree Seed Diversity project will bring
three year-old red and black oak seedlings back to their urban roots in the
city's parks and ravines. The new seedlings will be planted this month in
eight parks including L'Amoreaux Park, Glen Stewart Park and Kew Gardens in
east Toronto.
    Grown from native seeds collected four years ago, these local trees are
the first key step to restoring the native diversity of trees that have
evolved over centuries to be best adapted to growing conditions in the city.
    "Ontario's forests are increasingly under threat from climate change as
well as the introduction of new insect pests and diseases from around the
globe," says Richard Ubbens, Director of Toronto Parks, Forestry and
Recreation's Urban Forestry branch. "Urban forests are particularly
vulnerable, due to the historic use of commercial landscaping stock from a
narrow genetic base of cultivated tree varieties and clones. By giving these
seedlings a head start we are working toward bringing our native forests back
and slowing the spread of invasive tree species in Toronto's parks and
    In 2005, Brian Swaile, Trees Ontario Seed and Stock Coordinator and
certified seed collector, gathered red and black oak acorns in the Beaches
Glen Stewart Ravine. The seeds were delivered to the Ontario Ministry of
Natural Resources Tree Seed Plant near Angus for processing and then sown by a
local native plant nursery. After several years of growth under controlled
nursery conditions, the first crop of red and black oak seedlings are ready
for planting in Toronto.
    "Five years ago, Trees Ontario partnered with the Toronto Parks, Forestry
and Recreation's Urban Forestry branch in an effort to start exploring
solutions to the complex problems facing Toronto's urban forests," said
Michael Scott, President and CEO, Trees Ontario. "These seedlings are an
important first step for the City of Toronto and will hopefully inspire other
cities across the province to plan their own local seed acquisition programs
to replenish their forests."
    Sponsored by Toronto Hydro, this project is being carried out by the City
of Toronto and Trees Ontario in collaboration with the Ontario Forest Gene
Conservation Association and the Ontario Tree Seed Plant.
    For more information, please visit

    City of Toronto

    Toronto is Canada's largest city and sixth largest government, and home
to a diverse population of about 2.6 million people. It is the economic engine
of Canada and one of the greenest and most creative cities in North America.
Toronto has won numerous awards for quality, innovation and efficiency in
delivering public services. 2009 marks the 175th anniversary of Toronto's
incorporation as a city. Toronto's government is dedicated to prosperity,
opportunity and liveability for all its residents.

    Trees Ontario

    Trees Ontario, working with its partners, is the largest, not-for-profit
tree planting partnership in North America. It is committed to the re-greening
of Ontario through a range of tree planting activities. Trees Ontario is also
partnering with the Ministry of Natural Resources to help deliver the Ontario
government's commitment to plant 50 million trees by 2020.
    The goal of Trees Ontario is to restore the province's tree planting
capacity, especially throughout southern Ontario on private lands, by
providing funding and planning support for its tree planting partners. These
include local Conservation Authorities, Ontario Stewardship Councils,
municipal governments and community volunteer groups.
    This spring Trees Ontario, with its partners, will plant close to 3
million trees across the province. Its goal is to support the planting of up
to 10 million trees every year by 2015. Visit the Trees Ontario website at

    Ontario Forest Gene Conservation Association

    The Forest Gene Conservation Association (FGCA) promotes the importance
of the genetic resources of the forests of South Central Ontario, with
emphasis on conservation of genetic diversity of native forest tree species.
FGCA's focus lies in promoting the maintenance and restoration of the genetic
base of woody plant species (trees and shrubs), increasing the economic
benefits of planting through planning and implementing tree breeding programs
for selected woody plant species and ensuring the use of biologically
appropriate seed sources in support of planting programs. To learn more visit

    Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources Tree Seed Plant

    Since its establishment in 1923, the Ontario Tree Seed Plant has played a
key role in the protection of Ontario's rich natural heritage. The facility
collects seed from about 50 different native species and supplies smaller
nursery operations, large forestry companies and the public. It also maintains
a seed bank of native tree species from across the province and makes seed
available for reforestation. In this way, the plant contributes to Ontario's
commitment to conserving biological diversity.

For further information:

For further information: For Media Inquiries, please contact: Trees
Ontario Representatives: Victoria Ollers, GoldFenix Communications, tel: (416)
822-2288, email:; Paul Tyler, GoldFenix Communications,
tel: (905) 235-7285, email:; City of Toronto: Richard
Ubbens, Director, Toronto Parks, Forestry and Recreation, tel: (416) 392-1894,

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