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
The 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, 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