The Humber Youth Stewardship (HYS) project is a successful organizational partnership initiative created to maintain and enhance natural areas in the Humber River Valley. This is the third year of the HYS program. Ten local high school youths were hired with two university graduate supervisors to undertake the project.
The goals for the project were to:
✓ Remove invasive species in a naturalized area on the slopes next to Highway 27;
✓ Monitor the remaining native tree success;
✓ Restore the area with native species on a fall community planting day;
✓ Re-evaluate areas measured from HYS projects in 2008 and 2009
✓ Tag all trees measured to facilitate future identification in all plots
The project was developed to respond to the residents of Ward One who were concerned about the increase in populations of invasive species and the growing population of deer. Study sites were chosen by the City of Toronto Forest and Parks Department in conjunction with the Humber Arboretum staff.
Protocols for safety, invasive species removal, measurement and reporting of the remaining native trees and their regeneration, post removal treatment of stumps, composting of removed herbaceous plants and chipping of woody plants removed were all developed by the expert parties involved. The community residents and Humber students participated in the site restoration plantings of native trees and shrubs.
The project involved a partnership of the following organizations led by
ACER- Association for Canadian Educational Resources:
City of Toronto – Councillor Suzan Hall
City of Toronto – Forestry and Parks Department – Cheryl Post
TRCA- Toronto Region Conservation Authority-Gary Wilson?
Rexdale Youth Resource Centre YMCA- Luca ?
Humber Arboretum Director and staff Melanie Sifton
The project budget included wages and administration costs for the Stewardship Team. Major funding was through Councillor Hall’s Clean Beautiful City Fund with additional funds from Service Canada and the YMCA.
Partner organizations In-Kind Contributions:
ACER – administration, monitoring protocol equipment, training and supervision, review of data and report and document distribution.
City of Toronto – expertise in choosing site, identifying invasive species and removal protocols ;post HYS treatment of removed herbaceous and woody invasives; field removal tools/equipment, first aid kit, reference books, storage bags, planting stock and accessories, planting stock and accessories, mulch and field staff, report printing.
Humber Arboretum – safety training for equipment usage, WHMIS certificates, on site storage and facilities, on-site expertise in identification and site choice.
TRCA – provision of safety boots and T-shirts for crew and supervisors
Ward One Community – @60+ volunteer planters for Saturday morning event
YMCA advertisement of the positions available locally, short listing and preparation of local applicants for interviews, provision of room and support for interview day and a site visit made during the project.
Suzan Hall, City Councillor Ward One
Alice Casselman, Carole Berry, Association for Canadian Educational Resources
Cheryl Post, Volunteer Coordinator, City of Toronto Forestry and Parks
Sadia Butt, ACER forest conservation specialist
Sid Baller, Heather Summers, Humber Arboretum
All of the plots established with HYS were renamed. The 2010 site along Highway 27 was named Plot 3, the 2009 sites were renamed Plot 1 from the river site and Plot 2 from the peninsula site, and the 2008 site was renamed Plot 4.
Invasive Species Removal and Plant Maintenance
This year the invasive species removal focused along the slope running beside Highway 27. The first species to be removed was Canada thistle. Only half of the slope along the highway was cleared of woody invasive species. This area was designated by Cheryl Post and team from the City of Toronto. The invasive vegetation removed from the Humber River Valley was growing aggressively and crowding out the native species that are attempting to survive in their natural habitat.
Invasive species will out-compete native species because they often possess certain traits, such as longer and earlier growing seasons than native plants, prolific reproductive methods, and a lack of natural predators. This often poses a problem for ecosystem diversity, as invasive species begin to out-compete native ones, often resulting in reduced wildlife value and ecosystem function.
After all the invasives were removed from the slopes, eight 20m x 20m quadrats were established.