By Nick Cagna, Local Journalism Initiative reporter
York Region is home to 21 forest tracts and more than 150 kilometres of trails. Every year during National Forest Week, residents in York Region get together to honour and appreciate the essential contributions of these woods.
This week-long celebration creates a greater appreciation for the region’s forests, their critical ecological role, and the importance of sustainable forest management.
York Region’s forests play a critical role in supporting the region’s ecosystem. These woodlands act as natural habitats for countless plant and animal species, promoting biodiversity and ensuring ecological balance.
Forests also function as a carbon sink, capturing and storing carbon dioxide, thus playing a vital role in mitigating climate change. Moreover, these green spaces contribute to clean air and water, providing essential services for both urban and rural communities alike.
James Lane, Manager of Natural Heritage and Forestry Services in Public Works at York Region, says our communities play a large role in caring for our green space.
“Together, it is our shared responsibility to protect this essential natural resource and do our part to keep it healthy for future generations,” Lane says.
During National Forest Week, happening September 17-23, the communities of York Region come together to celebrate the significance of their forests and raise awareness about their conservation. Organized by local environmental groups, conservation organizations, and government bodies, the week is filled with a wide range of engaging and educational events for people of all ages.
Residents are encouraged to join guided nature walks led by knowledgeable experts.
To celebrate National Forest Week, residents are invited to participate in the York Regional Forest Fall Festival at Hollidge Tract (16389 Highway 48, Whitchurch-Stouffville) on Saturday, September 23 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
These walks offer a unique opportunity to explore the diverse plant and animal life that thrives in York Region’s forests. Participants learn about the importance of biodiversity and the need for preserving these natural treasures.
Celebrating the aesthetic beauty of the forests, art and photography exhibitions showcase stunning visuals captured by local artists and photographers. This creative display serves as a reminder of the profound impact of nature on human emotions and well-being.
National Forest Week encourages family participation through fun activities such as treasure hunts, storytelling sessions, and nature-themed games. These activities help instil a sense of responsibility for preserving the environment in younger generations.
Throughout the week, environmental organizations organize fundraising drives to support local forest conservation efforts. These initiatives encourage community members to actively contribute to safeguarding the forests for future generations.
In 2022, over 100 residents attended a National Forest Week pop-up event at various York Regional Forest tracts to learn about and experience the benefits of the Forest; tree seedlings were given to participants to plant in their yards.
You can sign up for guided forest walks and other nature activities at york.ca/newsroom/campaigns-projects/york-regional-forest-walks-and-events.