ground each year.
Norway maple, for example, in addition to outcompeting and shading out all other vegetation, releases a toxin in its sap, which repels insects. So that keeps away the caterpillars, upon which birds and squirrels feed. A healthy forest is a biodiverse ecosystem that is in balance. Invasive species destroy that balance.
“We need to get rid of invasive species but need to have native plants ready to plant back in there,” said Davies.
“Once [invasive species are] removed, if the health of the ecosystem isn’t strong enough to quickly rebound, you can be putting in a lot of time and resources for not a lot of traction.” The issue of resources is key. Local councillor Jaye Robinson said that there are many residents who would love to play a role in ensuring our ravines are maintained as a vital city asset. But convincing union leadership to allow that is a challenge that will have to be tackled.
“The health of the ravines is something that personally I’m very passionate about,” she said. “I’m very aware of what’s happening and very concerned.”
Robinson was active when the city’s Ravine Strategy made its way through Toronto City Council, moving a number of motions to include things such as Ecological Integrity, a Parks Canada tool used to measure the state and health of ravines.
Separately, she has pushed for fast-tracking measures to protect the environmentally sensitive areas in Sherwood Park.
But she recognizes that the city faces a big backlog.
That’s why the ravine study team landed on the idea of a local group modelled after New York City’s Natural Areas Conservancy.
“You take what the city has got and then elevate that capacity scientifically and with the funding required to get the job done,” said Davies.
Now, instead of relying on city and conservation authority staff to pull every weed and plant every sapling, Scrivener envisions a volunteer brigade investing their own sweat equity to keep the ravines healthy.
In fact, Scrivener has already had conversations with the Toronto Botanical Garden about the idea.
“We want to see an action plan come into place because it is everybody’s job to deal with this issue,” said Scrivener. “The house is on fire. We need to put the fire out and fix the damage before it’s too late.”