Naturalization has numerous ecological, environmental, educational, and recreational benefits. The planted area in your neighbourhood helps to address the climate emergency in our community by reducing greenhouse gas emissions (over 165 tonnes, equivalent to taking 2 passenger vehicles off the road every year for 20 years) while making your neighbourhood and our community as a whole more resilient to the changes in climate and invasive species. In comparison to conventional landscaping, natural landscapes bring several benefits to our community.
What are the ecological benefits?
Naturalized areas benefit pollinators by creating un-disturbed habitat (e.g., bumble bees and honey bees), and help other wildlife by creating space for the flowers and fruits needed to provide food and shelter for birds, mammals, and insects.
What are the quality of life benefits?
Naturalized areas in parks and trails provide an opportunity to recreate in proximity to nature, which promotes mental health and encourages a diverse use of the space. Naturalized areas become a source of beauty as naturalized parks and roadway sides mature. The naturalized areas provide a cooling effect to the areas, creating resilience to rising temperatures due to climate change. Residents can enjoy more shady areas for walking, picnics, berry picking, and other outdoor activities. Noise levels are reduced as plantings mature. Spending time in forests and looking at trees increases relaxation and mental health.
What are the resilience benefits?
Naturalized areas improve the air quality of the area, moderate extreme temperatures, slow stormwater runoff (helping prevent flooding issues), and protect homes from wind by acting as windbreaks. The naturalized areas also lower our contribution to climate change by lowering the carbon emissions from gas mowers and actively capturing carbon from the atmosphere.
What are the educational benefits?
These ecological and environmental benefits also provide opportunities for residents to learn and develop a relationship with nature, by taking part of activities like foraging, bird watching, etc. These benefits can be bolstered by aligning outdoor time with school programs and/or curriculum.
What does the naturalization progression look like?
Most of the benefits of naturalization can only be realized with cluster planting of trees “creating little forests” across the City. This allows for cooperation between trees and shrubs and support to the existing degraded soil. In the early years, areas may appear sparse, but they will blend-in and look natural over time. This provides an opportunity for wildlife viewing, photography, nature appreciation, play, and relaxation. While naturalized areas in City land are not mowed and manicured, they are managed for litter control.