Toronto Nature Stewards (TNS), with the agreement of the City of Toronto Urban Forestry Division, runs a stewardship program on public land in ravines and natural areas without direct City supervision. Sites are managed by Lead Stewards who have been trained, follow agreed-upon protocols for ecological restoration and report their stewardship activities
A pilot started in spring of 2021 with 9 sites, 23 trained Lead Stewards and 153 stewards. The program expanded in 2022 to 22 sites, 58 Lead Stewards and 466 volunteers. Additional volunteers participate in “pop-ups”, where groups and individuals participate in stewardship on a more ad hoc basis under Lead Steward supervision without making a commitment to a dedicated site.
TNS stewards support the ecological restoration of ravines and natural areas by: picking up litter, removing invasive plants, planting native plants, and monitoring the ecological impact of stewardship activities. We meet as small groups of stewards led by trained Lead Stewards, to care for a piece of land within Toronto’s ravines and natural areas. Each stewardship site has been approved by the City of Toronto and each group is committed to stewarding their site for a period of years.
Interested in participating in the TNS program?
Goals for 2023 include:
- Training more Lead Stewards who will lead stewardship groups in future years, mentored by Lead Stewards from previous years
- Obtaining City of Toronto approval for new sites, additional invasive plants, and planting native plants at select sites
- Monitoring the success and failures of stewardship activities to continually improve the program
- Improving the ecological integrity of additional sites within Toronto’s ravines and natural areas
- Creating a diverse, stimulating and welcoming environment of like-minded individuals dedicated to improving the biodiversity and ecological health of Toronto’s ravines and natural areas.
Toronto Nature Stewards is responsible for:
- Recruiting and training Lead Stewards
- Conducting site walks and offering suggestions to prospective Lead Stewards for site choices
- Submitting applications for new stewardship sites to the City of Toronto
- Preparing Information Sheets for identification and removal of invasive plant species
- Creating and maintaining the TNS website with training and resource material
- Coordinating and aggregating monitoring and reporting
- Coordinating legal liability coverage
- Providing first aid kits, Naloxone kits, sharps containers and name tags to Lead Stewards
- Encouraging community among TNS stewards
- Providing single point of contact for communication between TNS stewards and the City of Toronto
- Providing stewardship guidance to private property owners
The City of Toronto is responsible for:
- Providing criteria for determining sites and activities
- Circulating information to relevant internal City of Toronto divisions for site approval
- Reviewing Invasive Plant Information Sheets, providing input on best management practices and approving species for removal and planting
- Providing a Stewardship Contact person for communications between TNS and the City of Toronto