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Tree planting event helps to restore slope

DIG IT: Volunteers came out on May 29 for the Evergreen Spring Sprout Planting Event, the first in a series of activities in 2008 in partnership with Evergreen. (Photo by Aurora Herrera.)

by Aurora Herrera

The Highland Creek watershed is now a bit greener, thanks to a tree planting initiative that was completed on campus on Thursday.

Twenty-five volunteers, including staff members, community members and students at U of T Scarborough broke the soil for the first time this year during the Evergreen Spring Sprout Planting Event. This activity was part of an ongoing initiative to renaturalize the denuded slopes behind the S-Wing and H-Wing patio.

Two hundred trees and shrubs were planted on the slope. Species included staghorn sumac, highbush cranberry, juniper, paper birch, trembling aspen, white pine, American basswood and green ash.

“All of the trees we are planting are native to the area,” said Tim Lang, sustainability coordinator at U of T Scarborough. “They will stabilize erosion and provide a continuous natural habitat on the slope. It is easier for the ecosystem to adjust to native trees as opposed to foreign species.”

Last year, more than 400 trees and shrubs were planted during two events – Plant on a Slant and Trick or Trees – on the H and S Wing slopes alone. Thursday’s planting brings that total to more than 600. In addition, planting and stewardship events were held elsewhere on campus at more than 10 events last year.

All of these projects are taking place as part of an ongoing partnership with Evergreen, an environmental organization. Evergreen is a charity that builds the relationship between nature, culture and community in urban spaces – schools, communities and homes.

“Behind this slope is Highland Creek, which is a really important part of our local ecosystem,” said Caitlin Langlois, stewardship coordinator at Evergreen. “Highland Creek is very degraded in general because 100 per cent of the watershed sits in the city of Toronto. Other watersheds that continue into more rural areas do not have the same problems caused by construction or roadways. The soil is so sandy here that when it’s raining or windy the soil will be eroded.”

This is the third year that this campus is partnering with Evergreen. “Evergreen has been great with planning events and providing the expertise, equipment and planting materials,” Lang said.

“I’m taking environmental science right now and I wanted to apply my program,” said Linda Chu, a volunteer who just completed her first year of university.

“I go hiking and fishing whenever I can and I’m always outdoors, so I wanted to come out and support the planting,” said volunteer Heather Beck, an English specialist student.

Grounds supervisor Rob Sarson, who has worked at U of T Scarborough for over 31 years, was also a participant in the event. “I’ve had a hand in planting pretty much every tree on this campus,” he said. “Before, this patio was just grass and there was nothing here. Then we did a project to bring the vegetation of the valley closer to the buildings. It gets incredibly hot out here without trees for shade. The Scarborough campus is the best location of all the U of T campuses so we have to protect it.”

Other planting events are coming up. On Friday, June 13, from 1 to 2 p.m. there will be a stewardship event – Freaky Friday – to tend to the wildflower garden planted last year beside the Student Centre. On Thursday, June 26, another wildflower garden is scheduled to be planted around the patio located behind Joan Foley Hall between 1 and 3 p.m. at an event called Bridge Party. Students, faculty, staff, and other community members are encouraged to volunteer. For more information or to participate, visit the Sustainability Office events web site ( Follow the links to the intranet to sign up.

To get more involved with green events on campus, contact Tim Lang at For more details on Evergreen, visit:

Aurora Herrera is a fourth-year student in the journalism program offered by U of T Scarborough and Centennial College. She is currently working as an intern in the office of marketing and communications.

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