Naturalization Benefits

Naturalization Benefits

Why Naturalize?
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 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 the following benefits to our City:

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.
 

Recreational and Quality of Life Benefits
Naturalized areas in parks and trails provides 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.

Environmental 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.

Did you know... one gas mower running for an hour emits the same amount of pollutants as driving 160 kms in a car?

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 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, shrubs and support to the existing degraded soil.  In the early years, areas may appear sparce, 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 manicultured they are managed for litter control and vandalism.

Site selection
Most areas that are candidates for naturalization are passive open space. Most of these areas are along roadways, utility corridors, storm water facilities, or are selected to help buffer and protect existing areas (for example: shelter playground from wind and increase tree density in an area in general).

Find out more about the many parks and open space areas in the City to enjoy through the digital neighbourhoods map to help find playgrounds, courts, fields, and many other recreation facilities.