Glen Stewart is an 11 hectare ravine with a wide diversity of plant and bird life. Fed by clean ground water from Ames Creek, the ravine forest is dominated by red oak and red maple. The site is also designated as an Environmentally Significant Area through the City's Official Plan. Several species of birds and plants observed within the area are regionally uncommon.
The total amount of woody plant material planned for this spring includes over 800 trees and shrubs. The majority of the new plantings are small plants and easily damaged by foot traffic. Give these plantings the chance to get established. Tread lightly, stay on the trail and keep your dog on a leash.
The City of Toronto and Toronto and Region Conservation Authority have completed infrastructure improvements including the reconstruction of two pedestrian bridges, the Balsam staircase and more than ten slope retaining structures. In addition to these reconstruction projects, a boardwalk has been installed to improve trail conditions in the ravine and to make the site more inclusive and accessible.
Part of the infrastructure improvements completed in the ravine was the replacement of approximately 16 retaining walls at 8 different locations in the ravine. The new walls were constructed using a new environmentally sustainable product called Envirolok that is built out of fabric sand bags that will be vegetated to provide additional slope stabilization.
All of these improvements will help enhance the forest conditions over time by protecting sensitive plants and soils from off-trail traffic. Glen Stewart Ravine Management Plan (pdf)
Sandy soil and steep slopes make this ravine extremely vulnerable to erosion from off trail usage. The soil in some areas of the slopes has become packed and hard like pavement, and as a result the soil can no longer absorb water. When this soil compaction occurs in a sensitive area like the Glen Stewart ravine, the result is plants that grow on the forest floor, called the forest understory, die off. This causes the trees, in this case, red oaks and red maples, to suffer and leads to tree death which eventually causes forest death. You can help nurture the ravine back to good health by treading lightly. Please, stay on the trails, respect the fencing and keep your dog on a leash.