2022 Greener Greenspace Profile
Milne Hollow Community Stewardship Program Site
Located in Toronto, Milne Hollow is a ravine parkland containing wetlands and valuable habitat for a diversity of species. The greenspace is one of the City of Toronto's Community Stewardship Program sites.
Design and Process
Milne Hollow is a 6-hectare ravine parkland in Toronto along the East Don River. The parkland is characterized by dense vegetation, small wetland pockets, a large floodplain wetland, some open land and a paved trail. Milne Hollow provides valuable habitat for wetland and forest species. Like other ravine parklands, the greenspace is also a destination for visitors to enjoy nature-based recreation.
This ravine parkland is also one of the eight City of Toronto's Community Stewardship Program sites. The city’s stewardship program actively engages the public by inviting residents to join the city in ongoing restoration activities. Participants in the program learn about ravine ecology, native trees, shrubs, herbaceous plants, invasive species, ecological monitoring and more.
In Milne Hollow, the main stewardship activity is restoring a wetland that contained a dense stand of the invasive wetland grass, Phragmites australis (Common reed). Hard-working volunteers removed Phragmites using a manual spading method over a period of five years. The suppression of the invasive grass has led to an increase in native species germinating from the seed bank including Jewelweed, Common cattail, and Aster species. In addition, volunteers planted a variety of native wetland shrubs and wildflowers to help promote a diverse habitat that supports a variety of native wildlife.
Through these ongoing efforts, the wetland at Milne Hollow is now better able to support natural systems and processes. Attention was paid to soil health, which was improved by leaving downed woody debris from dead or dying trees, leaves, and plant material thereby providing habitat for wildlife and nutrients for native plants. Where required, volunteers also added mulch in order to improve water retention and soil quality.
The Community Stewardship Program is coordinated by the City of Toronto's Urban Forestry branch. City staff and a team of dedicated program volunteers visit this site on a weekly basis from May until November for two hours each week. Forestry staff are trained in ecological restoration practices and are supported by overarching site maintenance plans that identify priority areas and provide a multi-year restoration plan for each Community Stewardship site. Volunteers learn about the natural environment and ecological best management practices through educational workshops, staff supervision, and peer-to-peer mentorship.
The Community Stewardship Program has coordinated and hosted ongoing community-based research on manual methods of controlling invasive Phragmites and Dog-Strangling Vine with the assistance of a professor from Humber College. This research provides data that will inform new best management practices for manual invasive species control methods, which are shared to benefit other restoration programs.
The wetland improvements at Milne Hollow benefit the community by improving drainage, and reducing the risk of flooding. Preventing the spread of invasive plants protects neighbouring parkland and private property from the spread of these destructive plants.
Additionally, by providing enhanced habitat for wildlife, Milne Hollow offers the community a place to engage with and observe nature, including native plants and animals. The site is part of a connected ravine system that acts as a corridor not only for the movement of wildlife but also people, as a major multi-use recreational trail runs through the site.
The City of Toronto recognizes the intrinsic value of biodiversity and the important ecosystem services that biodiversity provides, which are essential for a sustainable and resilient city. The ravines are the foundation of biodiversity in Toronto. They contain the greatest variety of ecosystems, species and genetic diversity in Toronto. This community stewardship model and volunteer enhancement of Milne Hollow’s wetland supports a variety of Toronto’s environmental policies and strategies.
For more information about this site and the community stewardship program, visit their website.
Photos c/o the City of Toronto
Greener Greenspaces is a recognition program for sites from across Canada that exemplify greener greenspace stewardship. The aim of the program is to showcase examples of ecologically-focused land care as a means to inspire others and to further the movement across Canada.See the full list of 2022 recognition recipients here