High Park’s planting program depends on staff and volunteers who collect seeds from native plants such as big bluestem, woodland sunflower, cylindric blazing star, Pennsylvania sedge and New Jersey tea. Seeds are propagated in the park’s greenhouses and later planted in appropriate areas.
Plantings focus on increasing the size of existing natural areas, improving connections between habitat fragments, establishing new natural areas, and regenerating closed trails. Native species are also planted in areas that have been cleared of non-native invasive species and in savannah areas that had previously been converted to non-native turf grass.
Plant selection is based on historical inventories. Where possible, seeds are obtained locally from natural stands. The first choice for seeds is from the park itself; the second choice is seeds from areas close to High Park that have similar climatic and environment influences.
Plantings are designed to mimic the vegetation patterns found in nature: for example, planting in scattered groups, interspersing clumps of grasses with flowers and shrubs, and combining species that naturally occur together. Care is taken to ensure that woodland species are planted where they would normally be found in nature, considering factors such as light and soil conditions and location on uplands or ravine slopes. Prescribed burns help ensure that the appropriate species mix prevails over time.
Since 2000, approximately 30,000 native plants have been reintroduced to the park through a combination of staff and community plantings. Approximately 40 ha of land has been cleared of invasive plant infestations and staff and volunteers have been working to restore native plant communities in these areas.
Both the High Park Volunteer Stewardship Program and High Park Nature Centre have been restoring large areas of the park with school groups and community members.
Sources: Forestry notice April 2008, High Park "Jewel" brochure rev.2008