Toronto, the capital of the province of Ontario, is a large Canadian city along Lake Ontario’s northwestern shore. The city is rich in green spaces, from the orderly oval of Queen’s Park to the 400-acre High Park, complete with its numerous trails, sports facilities, and zoo.
Toronto has a legacy of working to protect green spaces in parks, along streets, and around the city, in addition to its extensive ravine network. Toronto has also been named the most ethnically-diverse city in the world, and the diversity of trees is part of that identity. Often called “a city within a park,” the City of Toronto recognizes its extensive parks and natural areas as an enormous asset to its residents.
“Urban green spaces are a very important way of demonstrating that the city is there for everyone.”
Mayor of Toronto
Toronto has approximately 17,000 to 18,000 hectares of urban forest canopy cover — over 10 million trees — a valuable resource to the city and the people who live, work, and play here. Over the next several years, the city plans to increase its canopy cover from 27% to 40% in a way that is sustainable and creates healthy forests. To this end, the city has developed a plan for the next ten years that aims to: increase canopy cover, biodiversity, and awareness; achieve equitable distribution and accessibility; improve monitoring; and promote stewardship.
With its increasing population, Toronto faces the challenge of balancing green spaces with built areas (buildings and essential infrastructure). The City is also seeking to expand efforts to sequester carbon through its urban parks and promote the proliferation of its native species. Working to promote forest conservation and restoration outside its boundaries could be an area of growth and innovation to be established over the coming years with the Cities4Forests network.
Toronto, where the trees meet the water
Did you know that the word ‘Toronto’ comes from the Mohawk word “tkaronto,” which means: “where there are trees standing in the water”? Originally called ‘The Narrows,’ which are channels of water through which Lake Simcoe flows into Lake Couchiching, this area was a place where the Hurons drove stakes into the ground to create fish weirs. Later on, the name was used to identify a new fort at the mouth of the Humber River — where Toronto began. With time, Toronto’s meaning also changed: it became the “meeting place” when translated into French. Both meanings fit with the essence of Toronto: one of the most ethnically diverse cities in the world, where trees are central to the city’s identity and heritage. “Urban green spaces are a very important way of demonstrating that the city is there for everyone,” says the Mayor of Toronto. Today, Toronto has approximately 18,000 hectares of urban forest canopy cover – a valuable resource to its inhabitants, who live, work, and play there.
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