Urban Forestry has been using fire as part of its natural area management program for black oak savannah habitats for over 20 years in three city parks: High Park, Lambton Park, and South Humber Park. Black oak savannah is a rare vegetation community that is at risk of extinction throughout North America. Fire sustains these sites by setting back competing vegetation, enriching the soil, and promoting the growth and germination of native seed banks.
Following careful review of the proposed burn sites in High Park, it has been determined that we will not be proceeding with a burn for spring 2019. This delay will allow time for existing native plants to establish, oak regeneration and additional areas to be ready for burning.
In the beginning stages of the prescribed burn program, frequent burns were necessary to reverse the effects of the approximately 100 years of suppressed fire cycles. As the successes of the prescribed burn program continue, the frequency and interval between burns is constantly being re-evaluated and adjusted accordingly.
Restoration of natural areas is an adaptive process and prescribed burn management, in combination with native species planting and invasive species removal, will continue to be a valuable tool used in these rare habitats to ensure their longevity and proliferation. Sites will be monitored this season and plans will be developed for an anticipated burn in spring 2020.