Restoration in Toronto's High Park

High Park’s Black Oak woodlands and savannahs, in combination with its other unique plant communities, provide a unique refuge for plants and animals within Toronto’s urban environment. Starting in the mid-1970s, the City realized that the natural environment of the Park represented a key asset and began to change its management practices. A number of studies followed, leading to the adoption of a management plan for the Black Oak Woodlands and Savannah in 2002. The City of Toronto, with the support of community volunteer stewards, is continuing to protect and restore natural areas of High Park for the long term.

Prescribed Burn 2011. Photo: Karen Yukich

Principles to Guide Restoration

Source: High Park: A Jewel of Toronto's Park System

Pond. Photo: Cindy Stanleigh

Aim for Sustainability

Restore the natural communities of High Park to a healthy and self-sustaining state. We must aim for terrestrial and aquatic systems that are natural, functioning, self-regulating and integrated with their surroundings.

Baby Oak

Mimic Nature

Use historical and ecological evidence to guide restoration. Soils, topography and microclimate should dictate what a vegetation community should be. As far as possible, use local seed and plant sources.


Use Appropriate Management Tools

High Park’s natural systems are complex and varied, and there is no single right way to tackle its problems, no “magic bullet”. We need to use a mix of management tools and select the best tool for the job and the site.

Northern Shoveler. Photo: Iain Fleming

Use an Adaptive Management Approach

We need to learn as we go, apply what we learn, and adjust our methods and perhaps our expectations as we monitor progress.

View of Floral Maple Leaf and Grenadier Pond. Photo: Peter Weis

Balance Recreational Uses and Environmental Stewardship

People use High Park in many different ways. We must ensure that facilities, infrastructure and activities are compatible with the preservation of the park’s natural environment and character.

High Park Greenhouses.
High Park Greenhouses.

High Park Stewards

Volunteer Stewards have been working with the City of Toronto since 1996, to protect and restore the remaining natural areas of High Park.

High Park Natural Environment Committee

Volunteer group that advises the City of Toronto on the protection and restoration of the natural environment of High Park.

Great Blue Lobelia, Cardinal Flower, Turtlehead

Restoration Resources

High Park Tour with Sam Benvie

Featured external resource from Ryerson University

This guided tour of the Black Oak Savana and High Park ecosystem for Ecology and Sustainable Landscapes (CKLA 400), an online course offered at Ryerson University. The tour is led by Sam Benvie, an instructor with The Chang School.

Sources and references:

  • YouTube video link.
  • Google map link.
  • Entire learning object link.
  • Except otherwise noted, content in this video is licensed under YouTube's Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license.
  • Featuring of the above content does not represent  endorsement of High Park Nature site or organisation by Ryerson University.

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