2011 OUFC Annual Urban Forest Conference


The OUFC annually hosts a conference on the Urban Forest. For 2011 we partnered with  TBG (Toronto Botanical Gardens) http://www.torontobotanicalgarden.ca/ .

A creative and committed team from both organizations worked tirelessly to put on a 2 day conference capped by a Toronto tree tour. Our presenters were as diverse as the attendees, all bringing  unique skills and knowledge generously shared. An invaluable tool was the Website created for the Conference http://spreadingroots.ca

The conference was formatted as follows. Scroll down for the presentations.


Ten years ago, the term “urban forest” was rarely used by anyone other than a relatively small group of tree advocates and professionals. Today, the concept has gone mainstream, with widespread recognition that we live in communities made better—healthier, cooler, more sustainable, and more beautiful—by the vital diversity of trees.

This year’s symposium brought together a wide range of people—professionals and passionate amateurs, researchers and citizen advocates, nursery growers and backyard gardeners, policy makers and hands-on stewards—to explore the critical issues affecting urban trees and to examine what can be done to ensure that our cities’ trees flourish.


Commercial trends and market realities play a crucial role in shaping the urban canopy. How do the choices made by nursery growers in selecting what species to grow and sell affect consumers’ choices? Should nurseries take a more active role in educating the public about appropriate choices for urban settings by supplying a greater diversity of trees? What are the economic imperatives that limit the nursery stock that’s available? In the urban forest of the future, will public demand lead to a more diverse tree canopy?

The Challenging State of Tree Stock– Mark Ostrowski, Owner, Laurel Forest Farms
Seeds and Genes– Barb Boysen, Coordinator, Forest Gene Conservation Association.
Tree Selection– Mark Endicott, Sales Manager, Brookdale Treeland Nursery
Corporate Buying– Judy Shirriff, Category Business Manager, Canadian Tire

Mark Ostrowski– Mark owns and operates a tree farm and field nursery just west of Orangeville, Ontario. Species produced are mainly native shade trees and various conifers for landscape contractors, tree movers and other wholesale nurseries. Mark is a graduate of the University of Guelph and current Chair of Landscape Ontario’s Growers Sector Group. (www.laurelforestfarms.com/laurel-forest-farms-business-card.html)click here to view Mark’s presentation. Mark Ostrowski 2011 Spreading Roots Presentation

Barb Boysen- Forest Gene Conservation Association. Barb is the Forest Genetics Specialist with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (OMNR) in southern Ontario and co-ordinates the Forest Gene Conservation Association (FGCA) (www.fgca.net/home/default.aspx)

Mark Endicott– Tree Selection, Sales Manager Brookdale Treeland Nursery (www.btn.on.ca/) Click here to view Mark’s presentation BTN 2011 Spreading Roots Presentation

Judy Shirriff– Corporate Buying, Category Business Manager, Live Goods, Canadian Tire Judy started her career in a flower shop before studying Horticulture at Niagara College and Marketing at Ryerson University.  She has spent 20 years working in various design and merchandising roles related to floral, landscape and garden centre.  She was a Category Manager at Sobeys; and is currently Category Business Manager, Live Goods for Canadian Tire. Click here to view Judy’s presentation Judy Shirriff’s Spreading Roots Presentation


Interest in urban tree planting has risen dramatically in the past decade, with new groups forming to do community plantings and governments setting increased canopy targets. Is there a danger that, with this focus on numbers, we are losing sight of issues such as tree health and survivability? Can we measure success simply by the increased numbers of trees in the ground? What are some of the issues, beyond quantity, that we should be assessing?

Quantity– Rob Keen, CEO, Trees Ontario
Quality – Janet McKay, Executive Director, Local Enhancement and Appreciation of Forests (LEAF)
Myth of Tree Replacement– Phillip Van Wassenaer, Principal Consulting Arborist and Founder, Urban Forest Innovations

Rob Keen- Quantity- Trees Ontario.  In 2003, Rob joined Trees Ontario as Program Manager. In 2009, he took on the role as Director of Operations and was responsible for the planning and implementation of Trees Ontario’s tree planting programs, sustaining its planting partnerships (65+) and the organization’s overall financial planning. Rob is now leading Trees Ontario towards achieving its regreening mandate. (www.treesontario.ca/)

Janet McKay- Quality, Executive Director, LEAF (Local Enhancement and Appreciation of Forests) (www.yourleaf.org/)
which is the recipient of two Green Toronto Awards in 2007 and 2009, and the North American Native Plant Society’s Paul McGaw Memorial Conservation Award in 2010.  Janet  served on the Board of Directors of the Ontario Urban Forest Council from 2002 to 2006. Janet is also involved in the provincial urban forest movement, taking leadership roles in the formation of the Urban Forest Stewardship Network and the Green Infrastructure Ontario Coalition.  LEAF has planted 16,000 trees and shrubs in backyards of Toronto and York Region  and is dedicated to improving city life one tree at a time.

Phillip VanWassenaer- Myth of tree replacement-  Principal Consulting Arborist and Founder, Urban Forest Innovations
Philip is the principal consulting arborist and founder of UFI. With over 20 years experience as a practicing arborist, Philip is an International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) Certified Arborist and a member of the prestigious American Society of Consulting Arborists (ASCA). In 2005, Philip became a member of the SAG Baumstatik, an organization of Risk Assessment specialists based in Stuttgart, Germany.

Philip also served as both President and Director of the Ontario Urban Forest Council (OUFC) between 1997 and 2008. Philip’s strong combination of education and experience allow him to bring a unique and successful approach to arboriculture and urban forestry.  urbanforestinnovations.com/click here to view Philip’s presentation. Philip van Wassenaer 2011 Spr. Roots Presentation


How can we inspire people to notice the nature around them? Explore the symbolism of trees as life, the morality of trees, and an artistic reflection on trees as paintbox/toolbox through examples here in Toronto and across the world. 

 Artist Noel Harding (http://noelharding.ca/),(http://greencorridor.ca/)

Canadian Artist & Urban Innovator
Noel Harding is an internationally recognized visual artist. From public art through to master plan and urban design vision studies Harding celebrates visual excellence, originality and community pride in built landscapes while also provoking enriching icons and signposts toward an identity of place.Click here for Noel Harding’s Presentation

Toronto Botanical Garden– Paul Zammit & Sandra Pella, Director of
Horticulture and Head Gardener, TBG
Edwards Gardens– Peter Dmytrasz, Supervisor Tree Protection & Plan Review, Urban Forestry, City of Toronto.
Wilket Creek Ravine – Beth McEwen, Manager of Urban Forest Renewal, City of Toronto

Paul Zammit- Director of Horticulture, Toronto Botanical Garden
A graduate of the University of Guelph’s Plant Agriculture program, Paul is an active member of many Canadian and international gardening communities. He lectures on a wide array of subjects, including container gardening, perennials, ground covers and tropicals. A popular and engaging speaker, Paul has given presentations at many garden clubs and large garden shows such as the Canadian National Exhibition, Success With Gardening and Canada Blooms, and other horticultural trade shows in both Canada and the United States. Paul is the Nancy Eaton Director of Horticulture at Toronto Botanical Garden.

Peter Dmytrasz- Supervisor Tree Protection & Plan Review, Etobicoke York District, Urban Forestry Branch, City of Toronto
Peter is a forester working with the City of Toronto, an OUFC Director and original member of the Ontario Heritage Tree Alliance.

Beth McEwen- Manager, Forest & Natural Environment Management, City of Toronto Urban Forestry
Beth McEwen, Manager of Urban Forest Renewal, City of Toronto
Beth is an Urban Forester with a Master’s degree in Forestry from the University of Toronto. Since 1991, she has worked at the City of Toronto, in the Parks Division. Responsibilities and projects have included management of forest pests and invasive plants, as well as ravine and natural heritage protection, forest restoration and prescribed burn management of High Park’s Oak Savannah. Currently Beth is managing large scale tree planting programs, as well as a natural resource management program aimed at invasive species management, natural surface trail management and volunteer stewardship programs. While Beth’s responsibilities have become more administrative in recent years, she remains passionate about the ravines and bluffs that define Toronto’s natural heritage system.

Session: DESIGNING WITH TREES                  

Trees are more than objects in a design. Landscape designers have a significant impact on the structure and composition of the urban forest based on the trees they specify in their professional work. What are the aesthetic and functional factors designers take into account, and how can their choices enhance the health and sustainability of urban trees? Can changes to current best practices help the urban forest function better?

Tree-Centred Design– Neil Turnbull, Owner, Neil Turnbull Ltd & Hedgerow Farms
Designing Public Spaces– Janet Rosenberg, Principle and Founder, Janet Rosenberg & Associates Tree-Centred Design

Neil Turnbull- Landscape Architect and President of Neil Turnbull Ltd. and Hedgerow Farm. http://www.hedgerow.ca/. Neil Turnbull Ltd. is a design/ build landscaping company.  While most of his projects are homes, cottages and farms in southern Ontario, Neil has also worked on institutional projects, including roof gardens at the Princess Margaret hospital, the Baycrest Centre, and the main garden at the Stratford Festival Theatre.

Greg Warren– Speaker for Janet Rosenberg & Associates (JR + A) http://www.jrala.ca/ Her most recent success is leading team HtO in the brilliant winning landscape design of the Toronto Harbourfront Parks and Open Space System Competition. Click here to view presentation  JRA Greg Warren Spreading Roots Presentation


The competition in our cities for the limited space available for tree roots is fierce and sometimes brutal. Much lip service has been given to street trees in sidewalks as an ornament, rather than as an integral part of the urban forest. While the visual impact of trees may be visible above the ground, most of the crucial factors that ensure trees survival go on below the surface. How do we collaborate with architects, developers and utility companies to work with trees as three dimensional living things rather than green circles on a plan?

Peter Simon- Landscaping Underground Urban Forestry Planner, City of Toronto
Peter Simon has been working in Urban Forestry for the City of Toronto for the last 10 years. The main focus of his work has been on improving the planting conditions for trees in hard surfaced urban areas. Peter is a graduate of the University of Toronto School Of Architecture. His experience as an architect includes working on large commercial, institutional and residential projects. During his career as an architect Peter acted as a consultant for the City of Toronto at varying times for the Planning, Housing and Parks and Recreation Departments. He become involved with trees through building projects including the Metro Toronto Convention Centre and a number of City parks that required an engineered structure to support the conditions needed for trees to grow to maturity. Peter’s interest is the integration of trees within the city infrastructure, the integration of the urban forest into the built environment. His passion is cities and the dynamic processes that are involved in shaping them. Click here to view Peter’s presentation. Peter Simon 2011 Spreading Roots Conf Presentation

A Tree on Your Doorstep, A Forest in Your Mind: Success Stories
from Europe

European counties have a long history of providing green spaces to European countries have a long history of providing green spaces to their urban residents. New challenges call for different approaches to planning and caring for treed urban spaces. Cecil presents a series of inspiring projects from Europe, focusing on how to connect people, parks and trees.

Keynote speaker- Cecil Konijnendijk, Danish Centre for Forest, Landscape and Planning Faculty of Life Sciences, University of Copenhagen.

Professor, Green Space Management, Danish Centre for Forest, Landscape and Planning Faculty of Life Sciences, University of Copenhagen. World renowned expert on the urban forest, Cecil is a professor at the Green Space Management at the Danish Centre for Forest, Landcape and Planning, University of Copenhagen. Cecil has authored over 200 publications, including his book, The Forest and the City, and is editor-in-chief of the scientific journal Urban Forestry and Urban Greening. Click here to view link of Mr. Konijnendijk’s presentation. Konijnendijk 2011 Spr. Roots conference


What will the urban forest look like 10, 25, or 50 years in the future? With climate change and many other stresses affecting trees, it’s important to look at ways to minimize impacts and keep trees as healthy as possible. What does current research suggest we should be doing now in anticipation of future changes? Should we be planting southern species? Will assisted migration cause other problems?

Predicting the Forests of the Future -Dan McKenney-  Senior Scientist and Team Leader with Natural Resources Canada, Canadian Forest Service Ontario
Gene Plasticity: Stretching the Range of Native Trees- Mary Gartshore-  Senior Ecologist, Restoration Specialist & Vice President, St. Williams Nursery
Urban Forests as Laboratories of Change- Ken Towle-  Terrestrial Ecologist, Ganaraska Conservation Authority

Predicting the Forests of the Future: Implications of Drought and Forest Composition- Dan McKenney- Canadian Forest Service Ontario Senior Scientist and Team Leader with Natural Resources Canada, Canadian Forest Service Ontario

Dan works with the Canadian Forest Service in Sault Ste Marie. He has a PhD from the Australian National University, a Master’s from the University of Guelph and a BSc from Texas A&M University. His research interests range from invasive species impacts to the development and use of climate maps. He has also been involved with updating and modernizing Canada’s plant hardiness zones.

Mary Gartshore- Senior Ecologist, Restoration Specialist &Vice President, St. Williams Nursery & Ecology Centre
Mary has lived, worked and taught in her field in West Africa including Nigeria, Cameroon and Cote d’Ivoire. In 1990 she and her partner Peter purchased a farm in the Long Point area and began growing native plants and carrying out ecological restoration projects. In 2009 she joined forces with a team to develop an ecological restoration and biodiversity conservation facility at the old provincial St. Williams Forestry Station now called St. Williams Nursery and Ecology Centre. Presently as many as 300 species of plants are propagated and large ecological restoration projects are carried out.

Ken Towle- Terrestrial Ecologist, Ganaraska Conservation Association
Ken received a Masters degree in Environmental Studies from York University in 1990. He worked in the fields of ecological restoration and environmental education as a consultant and with NGOs before joining the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority in 1997, and the Ganaraska Region Conservation Authority in 2003. Currently he is also Vice-Chair of the Ontario Invasive Plants Council. He lives in Peterborough.

Tour: Outdoor Tree Tour of TBG and Edwards Gardens

Toronto Botanical Garden– Paul Zammit & Sandra Pella, Director of
Horticulture and Head Gardener, TBG
Edwards Gardens– Peter Dmytrasz, Supervisor Tree Protection & Plan Review, Urban Forestry, City of Toronto.
Wilket Creek Ravine – Beth McEwen, Manager of Urban Forest Renewal, City of Toronto


Our community’s trees need protection and our urban forests need to be enhanced. How can we advocate effectively to put the necessary policies in place? How do we build community partnerships and engage the public? How do we turn our concern about trees into action that will result in a healthier, greener environment for us all? Learn about the strategies and skills employed by one grassroots community group that resulted in tree-positive changes in their community.

Lobbying for the Urban Forest– Liz Benneian, Manager, Public Education and Communications Oakvillegreen Conservation Association A former journalist and newspaper editor, under her leadership of Oakvillegreen Liz successfully fought plans to build an incinerator in Halton, convinced the Province to turn 675 acres slated for development into two new conservation areas, stopped plans to put a paved pathway through a critical migratory bird stopover area, and got a Town ban on pesticides and secured a bylaw to stop developers from clear cutting trees. Liz has been an award-winning environmental advocate since 2004. She was chosen as Earth Day
Canada’s National Hometown Hero for 2009 and in February of 2010 she received an
award from the Ontario Heritage Trust in recognition for her success in conserving the
Province’s natural heritage. Click here to view  Liz B 2011 Spreading Roots Presentation

      Tree Centred Design

The visual impact of trees may be visible above ground, but most of the crucial factors that ensure trees survive go on below the surface. Yet the competition in our cities for the limited space available for tree roots is fierce and sometimes brutal. What are some of the recent and emerging technologies and techniques that can enhance the survivability of trees in the urban environment?

Nina Bassuk, Urban Horticulture Institute at Cornell University (http://hort.cals.cornell.edu/people/faculty.cfm?netId=nlb2)

Nina Bassuk has been a professor and program leader of the Urban Horticulture Institute at Cornell University for the past 30 years. She is also co-chair of the Cornell Community Forestry Work Team and is a member of the Executive Committee of the New York State Urban Forestry Council.  She is co- author of ‘Trees in the Urban Landscape”, a text for landscape architects and horticultural practitioners on establishing trees in disturbed and urban landscapes. In addition, Dr. Bassuk has authored 100 papers on the physiological problems of plants growing in urban environments, including improved plant selections for difficult sites, soil modification including the development of ‘CU-Structural Soil’ and improved transplanting technology.  She works closely with municipalities to help implement best practices in urban forestry management and developed the Student Weekend Arborist Team to inventory public trees in communities in NY State.    She is a frequent invited speaker at national conferences and workshops and most recently received the Scott Medal for Horticulture.

            Session: Biological Threats to Trees

With every year, it seems there’s a new pest or disease threatening the longevity of urban trees. What can we learn from past invasions to help us deal with the threats that loom? Are these cycles “natural” or inevitable? Is there anything we can do now to protect urban trees from the effects of current pests and diseases?

Ecology and History of Invasive Species– Sandy Smith, Dean of Forestry, University of Toronto

Addressing Emerald Ash Borer– Joe Meating, Bioforest Technologies can (http://www.bioforest.ca/index.cfm?fuseaction=content&menuid=4&pageid=1010)

Invasives in the Urban Forest– Colleen Cirillo, Ontario Invasive Plant Council (http://www.ontarioinvasiveplants.ca/)

Innovative Approaches in European Urban Forestry: From Pocket
Park to Regional Green Infrastructure
With European society being largely urban today, the need for high
quality and liveable urban environments has increased. Green spaces
and trees are under pressure, however, due to a range of pressures and
budget cuts in the public sector. Innovation in urban forestry is called
for, for example in terms of new strategic approaches, partnerships and
funding. Based on examples from across Europe, an insight into the
state-of-art of urban forestry will be provided. 

Cecil Konijnendijk
Professor, Green Space Management
Danish Centre for Forest, Landscape and Planning Faculty of Life Sciences, University of Copenhagen


In the past, responsibility for the urban trees has been the purview of governments and professionals. But increasingly, community stewards have taken an active and vital role in tree care—not only in planting, but in advocating for more trees and for protection of the urban forest. What are the most successful strategies used by such groups to engage citizens in urban tree stewardship? How can we better enlist the energy and enthusiasm of the public to enhance the urban canopy?

Cathy Dueck, Manager, Ecology Park and Landscape Programs Peterborough Green-up
Mary Wiens, Roncesvalles Renewed
Michelle McLean, ‘Adopt A Tree Program Coordinator’, Friends of Trinity Bellwoods Park
JR Leo, Project Manager, Downsview Park and Halton Region, Evergreen

Cathy Dueck- Manager, Ecology Park and Landscape Programs, Peterborough Green-up
Cathy has been engaging the Peterborough community in land stewardship for 20 years. As manager of landscape programs for Peterborough Green-Up, she coordinates an urban forest program and Peterborough’s Ecology Park, a five acre centre for environmental education with a community tree nursery and an array of display gardens and naturalized habitats. Cathy’s work has been recognized with local, provincial and national awards for environmental education and leadership. Click here to view Cathy’s presentation Cathy Dueck 2011 Spreading Roots Presentation

Mary Wiens –Roncesvalles Renewed
Mary Wiens is an award-winning journalist and producer who can be heard weekdays on CBC Radio One’s #1 morning show, Metro Morning on 99.1 FM in Toronto. Mary’s commitment to city building is expressed on air as well as in her work as a community volunteer. As one of the founding members of Roncesvalles Renewed, she’s part of a group of residents, business owners, political representatives and policy makers who meet to discuss the major issues and opportunities facing their local community. The group played an important role in helping to change the city’s standards for planting boulevard trees, a project that stands as a symbol of what it means to be an active engaged citizen of your own city.

Michelle McLean- ‘Adopt A Tree Program Coordinator’, Friends of Trinity Bellwoods Park http://www.trinitybellwoods.ca/adopt-a-tree/about-aat.html
Michelle coordinates a volunteer Adopt-a-Tree program in downtown Toronto’s Trinity Bellwoods Park, which is an initiative of the Friends of Trinity Bellwoods Park (FoTBP). FoTBP is an ad-hoc volunteer group of park neighbors and users that has founded a weekly summer farmers market, operates a greenhouse as an educational and community resource, presents bulb and shrub planting events in collaboration with Parks and Recreation and responds to community issues that affect the park.

J.R. Leo- Project Manager, Downsview Park and Halton Region, Evergreen
JR’s background in environmental non-profit project management, specifically in stewardship and restoration with an emphasis on multi stakeholder programs between Government, NGOs and various local service clubs and groups. He is focused on urban greening projects, including sites in Downsview Park, Peel and Oakville. Click here to view J.R.’s presentation- JR Leo 2011 Spreading Roots Presentation

The Spreading Roots Team
We thank the following for their coordination and planning of Spreading Roots:

Anna-Liza Badaloo, Adult Education Coordinator
Toronto Botanical Garden

Toni Ellis, President
Ontario Urban Forest Council

Liz Hood, Director of Education
Toronto Botanical Garden

Lorraine Johnson, Gardening Author and Editor

Terry McGlade, Principal of Gardens in the Sky, Consultant with Flynn

Jack Radecki, Executive Director
Ontario Urban Forest Council

Brenlee Robinson, Vice President
Ontario Urban Forest Council

Peter Wynnyczuk, Treasurer
Ontario Urban Forest Council

Claudia Zuccato Ria, Director of Development
Toronto Botanical Garden