In conversation with Mark Dion’s exhibition, The Life of a Dead Tree, a series of guided walks led by biologists, field naturalists, and arborists will investigate the multifarious lifeforms that are supported by dead trees and their importance to Toronto’s ecosystems.
A biodiversity exploration series, these walks will happen every other Saturday in different park areas across the city of Toronto. Rain or shine!
Tickets: $10 general admission, $8 member pricing
Trees and Coexistence | West Toronto Railpath | May 25
With Richard Aaron
Meeting point: In front of MOCA, south end (158 Sterling Road)
Discover the diversity of tree species that grow along the West Toronto Railpath with field naturalist, Richard Aaron. This unique park area of Toronto is home to a variety of invasive and endemic trees—some arrived here on their own, while others were planted; some species are well-behaved, while others are more aggressive. Spend time with the different tree species and learn their characteristics, behaviours, and how they live together.
Richard Aaron is a seasoned naturalist who lives in the High Park area. Over the years, he has conducted numerous walks, talks, and workshops for over 90 organizations, ranging from naturalist clubs to universities, in both Canada and the United States. His main areas of interest are wildflowers, trees, fungi, slime moulds, dragonflies, moths, and ecology. You can learn more about Richard on his website.
Dead Tree Abundance | Todmorden Mills | June 8
With Paula Davies and Stephen Smith
Meeting point: Todmorden Mills Park, 67 Pottery Road. Meet at the front doors of the Papermill Theatre building.
Paula Davies and Stephen Smith lead a walk along the Todmorden Mills’ Wildflower Preserve Trail. A site that is dedicated to ecological restoration, Todmorden Mills is abundant with dead trees and home to a variety of plants and animals. This walk explores dead trees in various stages of decomposition and the different life forms that are supported by them, including wildflowers and Toronto’s unofficial mushroom species, Dryad’s Saddle.
Paula Davies has been active in environmental stewardship since the late 1980’s, beginning with the City of Toronto Task Force to Bring Back the Don, the East York Environmental Advisory Committee, and in 1991, forming the Todmorden Mills Wildflower Preserve (TMWP) at Todmorden Mills Park with noted environmentalist Charles Sauriol and horticulturist Dave Money. The TMWP, a registered charity under Paula’s direction, is actively restoring forest, wetlands and meadows at the 22-acre (9.1 hectare) park, just north of Danforth Avenue.
Stephen Smith is a forester and certified arborist with the firm Urban Forest Associates (UFA) Inc. As a restoration practitioner, he has designed and supervised hundreds of ecological restoration projects throughout Ontario over the past 35 years, working with many partner groups, and is the author of the invasive plant species list for Ontario. He is a founding member of the Society for Ecological Restoration Ontario and a member of the Ontario Invasive Plant Council (OIPC), and the Forest Gene Conservation Association (FGCA).
Dead Trees and Cemeteries | Mount Pleasant Cemetery, Toronto Necropolis | June 22
With Melanie Sifton
Meeting point: Toronto Necropolis entrance (Google Maps)
Cemeteries, particularly those created in the rural cemetery style, have been important historic areas for public access to trees and meditative landscapes. In fact, cemeteries pre-date planned parks in North America, and therefore have a tradition of nurturing some of the best collections of urban trees. This tour in the Toronto Necropolis explores many aged and veteran trees, dating back 100-150 years in some cases. We will look at the cycle of life and death in trees, including the impacts of invasive pests and diseases on trees of Toronto.
Melanie Sifton is a horticulturist and urban tree nerd with a background in public garden leadership. The former director of Humber Arboretum and Centre for Urban Ecology in Toronto, and the former Vice President of Horticulture & Facilities for Brooklyn Botanic Garden in New York City, she is currently pursuing doctoral studies at University of Toronto to investigate plant-soil interactions and landscape remediation for urban forest conservation.
Dead Trees for Biodiversity | High Park | July 6
With Scott MacIvor
Meeting point: Outside the entrance of Grenadier Restaurant (200 Parkside Dr, Toronto)
Deadwood is a source of decay and decomposition. These processes drive nutrient cycling and provide building blocks for biodiversity conservation. Deadwood is threatened, especially in cities, by removal as a result of aesthetic issues, human safety or biofuel collection. As a result, deadwood biodiversity—from birds to insects and frogs to fungi—are also under pressure. Come and appreciate deadwood as it rests in the rare oak savannah of High Park, and experience and discuss the biodiversity and ecosystem functioning it supports.
Scott MacIvor is a community ecologist and Assistant Professor in the Department of Biological Science at the University of Toronto Scarborough. He is interested in biodiversity in cities (especially bees) and how to promote conservation and ecosystem functioning in urban planning and design.
Snags: the Airbnbs of the Animal World | Wilket Creek Park | July 20
With Carling Dewar
Meeting point: Wilket Creek Park near Leslie St. and Eglinton Ave. E. Meet at the parking lot off of Leslie, just north of Eglinton (Google Maps)
Have you ever been on a road trip and had a hard time finding a place to stay, and when you finally found a place, it wasn’t what you’d hoped? This is happening a lot in the animal world, especially for species who depend on snags (dead standing logs) for all or part of their life cycles. Join Carling Dewar to learn about the competitive market for snags, which species depend on them, and the solutions that animals and humans have come up with to address this problem.
Carling Dewar holds a Masters of Environmental Science from the University of Toronto, and is involved in a variety of conservation initiatives, from flying squirrel research in Haliburton Forest, to species-at-risk policy implementation in Ontario and across Canada. She continues to support these initiatives through volunteer work with the Kawartha Wildlife Centre and in her position with Ancient Forest Exploration & Research as a Forest Ecologist and Outreach Coordinator.
Tall Grasses and Tall Trees | Lambton Forest | July 27
With Michael Henry
Meeting Point: Lambton Park Arena (4100 Dundas St W). Parking is available at the arena, or take TTC to High Park Station, board the 30 Lambton bus, exit at Howland Ave, and walk up the hill to the arena.
The forests of Lambton Park were historically shaped by fire which allowed an impressive and now very rare black oak-red pine savanna to form there. Join forest ecologist Michael Henry to walk among 200-year old oaks and red pines, through beautiful prairie grasses, and learn more about Toronto’s urban old-growth forests. After the guided walk, if people wish, they can walk part of the Carrying Place trail between Lambton Park and Jane Subway station.
Michael Henry is an expert on old-growth forest ecology, and the author of Ontario’s Old-Growth Forests. Recently he helped draw attention to threatened old-growth forests in Algonquin Park, where he and Nate Torenvliet found unprotected forests over 400 years old. He is the lead author of Ontario’s old-growth forests (second edition spring 2019), is working on a book about old-growth forests of Ontario’s Greenbelt (fall 2020), and blogs about forest issues.
See all The Life of a Dead Tree programming, including talks and workshops.