Region makes ‘remarkable progress’ in planting legacy

York Region has made “remarkable progress” in its Greening Strategy, planting more than 110,000 trees and shrubs, 6,000 pollinator-friendly plants and securing 13.7 hectares of land to protect and enhance natural areas last year alone.

Also last year, the region planted or distributed 900 pollinator seed mixes to create habitat for butterflies, bees and other pollinators. It also hosted 123 outreach to inspire stewardship and action.

The Greening Strategy was adopted in 2001 to support a “healthier, more resilient and sustainable natural environment and continues to enhance our green spaces,” says York Region Chairman and CEO Wayne Emmerson. It’s been used as a “tool” to realize York’s Sustainable Environment priorities. Green infrastructure, including trees, forests and other natural features, provide a variety of environmental and health benefits, such as cleaning air and water, providing shade and cooling local communities, reducing stormwater runoff, and removing and storing carbon from the atmosphere.

“Since its adoption in 2001, we have made remarkable progress to plant a legacy for future generations, provide cleaner air and water, habitat for wildlife and mitigate impacts of climate change,” Emmerson says. The Greening Strategy has supported planting more than 1.7 million trees and securing 1,518 hectares of land for conservation.

In 2019, York received $10 million in funding through Infrastructure Canada’s Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund towards implementing a $25-million natural infrastructure project over eight years. In 2021, it received $225,000 from the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario and the Canada Community Revitalization Fund to install nine pollinator meadows along Regional rights-of-way, creating habitat for butterflies, bees and other insects.

York Region collaborates with partners and local municipalities to manage the impacts of invasive species on trees and natural areas, increase canopy and woodland cover under the Forest Management Plan, and implement the Rouge National Urban Park Management Plan. The Greening Strategy was refined in 2012 and again in 2022. The most recent version commits to continuing and expanding core programs, developing new partnerships and piloting new programs to offer residents more opportunities to get involved.

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