Urban Forestry initiated restoration of a degraded hillside located in the south area of High Park on May 18, 2011.
Aerial view of the High Park Oak Woodland Restoration Site
Urban Forestry assessed the site in consultation with Park staff, concluding that continued use of the site as a BMX skills park was not sustainable and that continued recreational use would destroy the remaining trees on the site and lead to continued soil erosion. A decision was made to restore the site to a forested condition by relocating soils on site, enhancing vegetation cover and eliminating cycling use.
The restoration area on the hillside is part of a small oak deciduous forest, with remnant populations of oak, black cherry, maple leaf viburnum, witch hazel, choke cherry, dogwoods and bush honeysuckle as well as trilliums, upland bent grass, poison ivy, false solomon's seal and other wildflowers.
As a result of continued recreational use, the site has experienced many years of extreme soil movement. Some areas of excavation exposed tree roots and created unnatural depressions, while in other areas high mounds of soil were piled up against trees. Bike jumps had been constructed over top of downed woody material like stumps and limbs, as well as on soil mounds. Urban Forestry staff and community volunteers redistributed soil to fill areas of excavation and removed unnatural mounds.
Plug stock from the High Park native plant nursery were planted in May and about 500 shrubs purchased from a local grower and a mix of herbaceous plants were planted in the second week of June. Remaining unprotected soil was seeded with buckwheat as an annual cover crop to bind the soil. Additional planting is proposed to be completed in future years when stock is available from the High Park native plant nursery. Oaks will be allowed to naturally regenerate.
The first phase of the restoration project is now complete, with soil relocation and plantings finished as shown in one of the areas in the pictures below. The area is closed to public use to allow for the plantings to establish.
In 2008, the City was advised that the site was believed to be an aboriginal burial mound. The City contracted a licensed archaeologist to conduct an archaeological assessment in accordance with the Ministry of Culture’s standards and guidelines. The assessments, completed in September 2009, determined that there is no evidence of archaeological materials. In May 2010, the province accepted the conclusions of the assessments. Based on information provided from these assessment, the City does not recognize the land as a burial ground. The group claiming the site to be culturally significant have been invited to participate in the restoration process.
Spring 2011 - Planting List:
Alternate leafed dogwood
Round leafed dogwood
Purple flower raspberry
Maple leaf viburnum
Upland Bent Grass