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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.”

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