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Forest Protection

Forest Protection at RBG

The Nature Sanctuaries at Royal Botanical Gardens are home too 400 hectares (1,000 acres) of forest ecosystem with over 70 species of trees.

Forest areas represent about one third of the property and are focused to the many ravines that lead to the coastal marshes. Much of this is old growth Carolinian forest and as such consists off very large trees, particularly Red and White Oak with a rich diversity of rare species in the understory. In total 65 tree species are native with numerous others planted. The most common species are Red Oak, Black Cherry, and Red Maple. The oldest trees found are white cedars found along the escarpment face at Rock Chapel.

  • Westdale Forested Ravine
  • Creating Pits And Mounds In Churchill Park
  • Calebs Walk - Bench Boardwalk
  • Forested Ravine in Fall
  • Tree Trunk In Forest
Platanus occidentalis - Arboretum

Heritage Trees

The cultivated gardens and nature sanctuaries of Royal Botanical Gardens are home to over 20 individuals classified as “heritage trees.”

As a National Historic Site the Garden’s properties protect many remarkable trees. The nature sanctuaries contain 400 hectares (1,000 acres) of forest, while the horticultural areas have nearly 4000 specimens.

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Churchill Park Renovation Project

On the south side of Cootes Paradise, a significant project to improve the adjacent forest health is underway. The work includes planting native trees to buffer the forest, provide shade along newly established multi-user park perimeter paths, and manage water runoff within the park. 2023 marks the completion of this 10-year project, which encompasses the transformation of the park and a substantial tree planting effort. Ongoing monitoring and minor replanting will continue.

Churchill Park Reforestation Project Summary 2009 - 2023

Threats and Projects

A long history of adjacent land use changes, air and water pollution, and introduced diseases are causing a gradual decline in forest health. The biggest threat to the forest ecosystem currently is Eurasian invasive plant species. Ongoing projects to remove invasive plants are focused in the old growth ravines of the Special Protection Areas and volunteer events occur multiple times per year. Other threats to the forest include slope failures due to unstable creek flows, a result of impervious surface urban runoff further worsened by intense rainstorms of climate change, and an unbalanced food web due to a lack of amphibians (impaired wetlands), introduced earthworms, and unbalanced wildlife populations.

Spongy Moths

Spongy Moth (Lymantria dispar dispar, formerly known as LDD or Gypsy moth) is a non-native invasive pest that was introduced in the late 19th century. It was first discovered in Ontario in the 1960’s and has been a major defoliator of deciduous and coniferous trees across Southern Ontario.

Through monitoring efforts, our terrestrial ecologists have been able to identify hotspots for Spongy Moth egg masses along the south shore of Cootes Paradise Marsh and at Rock Chapel nature sanctuary. The larvae (caterpillars) of the Spongy Moth feed on the leaves of hundreds of trees and shrubs but tend to prefer oak trees. Since oaks are a staple in the Carolinian forest, these non-native pests are threatening this unique ecosystem.

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Invasive Species Management

RBG’s widespread properties support a diverse range of species concentrated in our natural lands. Invasive species are one of the largest threats to the sustainability of the region’s biodiversity.

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Support Conservation at RBG

These conservation projects are possible thanks to the generous support of RBG Members and donors. With a donation to Growing up Green, you can ensure an active, vibrant and healthy future for the children of today and tomorrow through our horticultural and conservation projects.

Royal Botanical Gardens (RBG) is the largest botanical garden in Canada, a National Historic Site, and registered charitable organization with a mandate to bring together people, plants and nature.