The Jewel of Toronto’s Park System: High Park
Centrally located on 400 acres of land in the heart of the Toronto, High Park provides visitors with a unique and unusual sense of wilderness. The park is home to countless species of wildlife, including insects, birds, amphibians and reptiles, fish and mammals. Recognized as one of the most significant natural sites within the City of Toronto, the park contains an outstanding concentration of rare plant species, including woodland fern-leaf, cup plant, shrubby St.John’s Wort and the wild blue lupine.
About one-third of High Park’s terrestrial system is considered to be ecologically significant because of the rare vegetation and wildlife found there. The most famous and admired plant communities in the park are the black oak savannahs; remnants of the sand prairie systems that once covered much of southern Ontario’s landscape. By some estimates, less than one percent of oak savannah ecosystems are left in the world and High Park contains the fourth largest remnant globally.
It is easy to think that the natural environment in High Park will always be there for humans to use and enjoy. However, the rapid expansion of the city over the last century has endangered and degraded the park’s natural environment. If we want future generations to be able to experience this incredible natural legacy in the heart of our bustling city, we need to teach people how to protect and restore its natural areas. This unique and fragile environment needs the Nature Centre’s educational programs to engage the heads, hands and hearts of park visitors in stewardship activities that will ensure the future of High Park and position them to practice environmental stewardship in their daily lives.
For more information on natural history, other groups operating in the park and park events, please visit the High Park Nature website.