Reviewing the viability for tree planting is the first step for schools to receive approval, guidance, and support for their planting projects. This is facilitated through the Viability Review meeting process.
Large Tree Program
The TDSB’s Large Tree Program was launched in 2007, and since then, approximately 2500 large native shade trees have been planted at 250 TDSB schools. The total canopy on TDSB properties now includes about 35,000 trees, which absorb approximately 175 metric tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere each year.
Nature Study Areas
In 2006, the TDSB initiated a program encouraging schools to develop nature study areas (NSAs) on the school grounds. These designated areas naturalize when they are no longer mowed, which can reduce maintenance costs, noise and air pollution. Each NSA is unique to the environmental conditions in that particular schoolyard. NSAs are an important component of the EcoSchools program as they allow teachers and students to access the enhanced biodiversity that naturalized areas can provide for learning right in the schoolyard. In 2016, the TDSB developed a guide to help schools plan, create, maintain and use their NSAs. Currently, about 18 schools have NSAs.
Innovative Planting Strategies
The TDSB continues to explore new and innovative planting strategies to increase the likelihood of tree survival in harsh, urban environments. These include the use of soil cells when planting in asphalt areas and planting trees in close proximity to create groves providing shade and benefits to overall tree health.
The TDSB practices mulching around the base of trees to improve moisture retention in soil, protect against compaction, suppress weeds and encourage soil regeneration. Working with EcoSchools students to help mulch trees on school grounds promotes stewardship and environmental connection.
Summer Watering Program
To improve tree survival rates, TDSB trees are watered during the first two summers after planting. This practice using gator bags helps young trees to establish and grow into healthy, mature trees.
For more information about tree planting and tree maintenance contact: Karen.Dobrucki@tdsb.on.ca