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Ever upwards! Expanding & enhancing a ~20 year old planting at White Oaks Park

Project type: 
Park Naturalization

This planting in White Oaks park took place at the north end of the Marr Drain (or, as its better known to residents, White Oaks Creek!) as a part of a day long set of planting events along the creek which saw a total of 558 native trees and shrubs planted between the two locations.

For the last twenty years or so, residents of White Oaks in south London have been watching the gradual growth and evolution of a series of tree plantings from the early 1990s in White Oaks Park and nearby White Oaks Optomist Park. These plantings (original planters unknown) were made up of a mix of trembling aspen, ash, and silver maple. While the trees had grown well, the ash trees were recently impacted by emerald ash borer, reducing the species diversity of the woodlot in White Oaks Park (near the west end of Renny Cres.). At the same time, some of the trembling aspen (which are often planted as a "nurse" crop to help get more sensitive species, like sugar maple, established) were beginning to fail.

To help counteract this, a group of volunteers went in and expanded the woodlot with a much greater variety of native trees and shrubs, including American Beech, Ironwood, Sugar Maple and Basswood, all species common to upland forests in the London area. We also underplanted in the shade of the "nurse" trees, incorporating such species as Eastern Hemlock that do less well on exposed sites. We were fortunate to be joined by 17 area residents and student volunteers from the London International Academy.

"This was a very special project for me personally," said Project Manager Amber Cantell "I grew up in this neighbourhood, and got to watch the plantings here in White Oaks Park and south along the creek grow up at the same I did. Seeing the change it brought to the neighbourhood and the creek played an important part in making me want to pursue restoration ecology as an adult. When I was in high school, part of the planting to the south was burned down, but the UTRCA came back and replanted. Many of my classmates at the time asked "what's the point?", fearing that it would just get burned again, but today it looks great. Every time I see it, it reminds me that persistence pays off."

Thanks to the sites proximity to White Oaks Public School, our youngest volunteers from the event (ages 3 & 5) will also have the chance to watch the trees grow on their daily trip to school, and hopefully look back on it many years from now to see the difference that the plantings made. (We could tell they were already excited about telling their classmates that they were the ones to plant them!)

Many thanks to the RBC Blue Water Project, the City of London and all our fantastic volunteers for making this project possible!


Family at White Oaks Park White Oaks Park - prep
Volunteer at White Oaks Park 1 Volunteer at White Oaks Park 2
Volunteer at White Oaks Park 3 Volunteer at White Oaks Park 4
Core volunteer (Sarah H.) Team from London International Academy