Biodiversity is essential for the health and well-being of all beings. These relationships are interdependent and reciprocal. Let’s protect and support the biodiversity of this place by building or by deepening one’s own relationship with the land.– Carolynne Crawley (Foreword, Toronto Biodiversity Strategy, 2019)

Biodiversity refers to the variety of life on Earth. It includes all living things and the ways in which they interact with each other at an ecosystem level, species level and genetic level. Biodiversity is key to a healthy, natural environment and is fundamental to supporting the livability and resilience of the city.

Toronto is located in a place of particularly rich biodiversity. Toronto’s diversity of plants and animals was supported by a history of land stewardship by Indigenous peoples, as well as natural elements including our temperate climate, productive soils and availability of freshwater. The ravines are the foundation of biodiversity in our city. They contain the greatest variety of ecosystem, species and genetic diversity in Toronto. An amazing variety of biodiversity can also be found in our back yards, parks, school yards and even along city streets. Habitat loss, invasive species, climate change and human activities all challenges that threaten our native plants and animals. In 2019, Toronto City passed the Toronto Biodiversity Strategy, which aims to support healthier, more robust biodiversity and increased awareness of nature in Toronto.

On May 7, 2021, the City of Toronto was recognized by Nature Canada for its efforts and leadership in urban bird conservation by being awarded a high-level certification as a bird-friendly city. Toronto is one of the first to receive this certification due to the long history of proactive action with the goal of minimizing the impact of development and light on migratory birds.

Highlights of action:

  • 2006: City Council directed all City facilities to turn the lights off at night during migratory seasons and support the work of the Fatal Light Awareness Program (FLAP), an organization that advocates for the plight of migratory birds
  • 2007: Toronto was the first city in North America to develop and implement “Bird-Friendly Development Guidelines” to make buildings less dangerous to local and migratory birds
  • 2010: City Council directed all new developments must meet the requirements of the Toronto Green Standard (TGS), which includes many bird-friendly performance measures

The City promotes the appreciation of birds through publications such as Birds of Toronto and participates in the Toronto Bird Celebration , a two-week celebration of birds every May, co-hosted by the City and community partners.

All these factors contributed to the City’s successful application to the Nature Canada to be certified as a bird- friendly city. Additional information about the Bird-Friendly City program can be found on the Nature Canada and Bird Friendly Toronto websites.

Toronto Bird Friendly City logo

On October 3, 2019 Toronto City Council unanimously passed the City’s first Biodiversity Strategy. The Strategy aims to support healthier, more robust biodiversity and increased awareness of nature in Toronto. The twenty three actions outlined in the Strategy will help to enhance the quality and quantity of biodiversity, and increase awareness of nature in Toronto.

Since the Biodiversity Strategy was adopted in 2019, the City of Toronto, TRCA and other partner agencies have progressed on the 23 actions outlined in the Biodiversity Strategy. Highlights of accomplishments are outlined below:

  • January 2020, City Council approved funding for invasive species management as part of the Ravine Strategy Implementation (Action #10 Advance plans and programs for the management of terrestrial invasive species)
  • All 9 Biodiversity in Toronto Booklets have been made available online (Action #19: Expand the biodiversity series)
  • Numerous nature interpretation projects connecting residents with biodiversity have been completed in 2020, including: Humber Bay Butterfly Habitat, Wetland Lookout Deck at Col. Samuel Smith Park, Don Valley Brickworks Mud Creek Inlet restoration and boardwalk (Action #18 Undertake innovative, collaborative, interpretive projects)
  • TRCA completed 13 restoration projects, including: Eastern Beaches Sand Dune, Franklin Pond wetland, Sherway trail replanting, restoration and habitat creation across the Meadoway (Action #9 Identify opportunities and priority sites for restoration)
  • The City of Toronto joined the Biophilic Cities Network (Action #23 Develop international partnerships)
  • Enhanced Bird-Friendly performance measure in Toronto Green Standard for mid-to-high rise buildings came into force January 1, 2020 (Action #15 Review and update existing City design standards, guidelines and incentive programs to support biodiversity)

The Biodiversity Booklet Series helps re-connect people with the natural world, and raises awareness of the seriousness that biodiversity loss represents and how it affects them directly. The booklets will be available at your local City of Toronto Public Library branch (while copies last) and are all in PDF format below:

Bees of Toronto introduces the reader to the great variety and spectacular beauty of these essential, yet often maligned, little insects. Bees are beautiful, diverse, important, and essential components of almost all terrestrial ecosystems.

Birds of Toronto (2nd edition) provides an overview of the 410 species of birds that have been documented in the GTA – 369 of them in Toronto! Some species are year round residents, some will stay just for the winter or breed through the summer months while others are migrants, passing through in a few days, heading to breeding grounds farther north or making their way south to warmer wintering areas.

Butterflies of Toronto is not a field guide in the typical sense, but aims to share with you the expertise of local butterfly watchers (lepidopterists), scientists, conservationists and city planners. Inside you will find profiles of some of our most beautiful species, a checklist and images of all those you may see, where you can go to see them, threats to their survival, and what you can do to help them thrive in our wonderful city.

Fishes of Toronto (part 1) and Fishes of Toronto (part 2) will increase the appreciation for the wonders living in our waters and encourages everyone to do everything they can to protect the fishes of Toronto for current and future generations. Water pollution and traditional development methods continue to be serious threats to habitat and the fishes in our waters. We must all do our part to reduce pollution, whether from vehicles, industry, or our homes.

Mammals of Toronto (part 1) and Mammals of Toronto (part 2)  is a little bit of history mixed in with educational information in field guide format, along with some insightful advice on living with wildlife in an urban setting.

Mushrooms of Toronto is meant as a starting point for those who encounter the mushrooms that grow in Toronto, and are sufficiently intrigued that they would like to know more. In the living world around us, fungi make up approximately 25% of the total biomass. They grow under water and on land. The air around us is filled with their spores. Their existence may go unnoticed, however, as they live forgotten beneath the soil and under the bark of trees.

Reptiles and Amphibians of Toronto is an essential resource to identify the 23 species that can be found in Toronto’s urban ecosystems. It will help you discover a new world beneath your feet (literally, in the case of mole salamanders!) and perhaps change your thinking about how we approach those ecosystems we share with animals and plants. If you want to find snakes, turtles, frogs, toads and salamanders, and learn who they are and what they do, this book is the perfect place to start. Please be advised, some images contained in this pdf span over to the next page. If you require assistance please contact

Spiders of Toronto highlights how spiders are among the most diverse groups of organisms on earth. There are over 42,000 known species. These fascinating creatures deserve our respect and are an important part of the biodiversity of our area. Spiders are predatory arachnids (invertebrate animals with jointed legs) that feed mainly on insects. Many of their prey cause considerable damage to our crops, our forests and our gardens. Learn more with this booklet from the biodiverse series.

Trees, Shrubs and Vines of Toronto is not a field guide in the typical sense. It is intended to reveal the surprising diversity of woody plants found within the City and highlight the vital role that the urban forest plays in the quality of life in Toronto. We hope that this book will inspire you to go out and experience our botanical city-mates first-hand, and to admire their tenacity in an ever changing environment.