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Markham’s mini forest ‘making a difference’

The City of Markham is among several communities that answered the call to plant a mini forest, the benefits of which were shared at a national conference about Canada’s forests in an era of climate change.

Canadian Geographic and the Network of Nature hosted the conference in Ottawa on October 19. National and international experts discussed the potential of mini forests to reduce the impact of climate change and enhance biodiversity.

Green Communities Canada teamed up with the two organizations, Dougan and Associates, and the TD Ready Commitment this year to encourage five communities across Canada to plant more than 2,800 trees in mini forests to educate tree planters about the importance of native plants and the responsibility to protect the country’s biodiversity.

Plantings took place in the Austin Drive Park in Markham, as well as in parks in Toronto, Hamilton, Guelph and Richmond, B.C. The forests will contribute to Canada’s goal to plant two billion trees by 2031 and are “great method of addressing climate change and biodiversity loss,” the Royal Canadian Geographical Society reports.

The mini forests are planted using the Miyawaki method, which encourages densely planted forests of native species from four different communities: canopy, sub-canopy, small trees and shrubs. Trees are planted near each other to increase competition for access to light, causing them to grow faster. Native plants also attract other species, such as pollinators, that rely on the mini forests during various stages of their lifecycle. The resulting ecosystem is small but rich in life, according to the Geographical Society.

“We are happy to be bringing people together from across the country to share learnings from our first year of planting urban mini forests in many regions of the country,” said Aran O’Carroll, National Director Government Relations, and Environment at Canadian Geographic. “We want people to feel inspired to continue to plant more trees, to take direct action in their own backyards and communities, and to be empowered to make a difference.”

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