Guest blog: Deep reflections on Toronto's Biodiversity

Green 13 and Parkdale High Park for Climate Action welcomed Jane Welsh and Teresa Bosco from the City of Toronto to speak at Swansea Town Hall on Toronto's Biodiversity and the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework.

Below please find the letter which Lenka Holubec sent to Jane Welsh a few hours in advance of that meeting, and which Lenka is kindly sharing as a guest blog. L

Hello Jane,

It is good to see topics such as Toronto’s Biodiversity and Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework comnig up along the speaker's events sponsored by Green13 and PHP4 Climate Action.  

From a perspective of urban nature, this recent COP15 was the very first to stress a crucial importance of cities for protecting biodiversity.

Big cities have a major role to play in protecting biodiversity, experts say

"Cities to take spotlight at the UN biodiversity summit
While they're traditionally viewed as concrete jungles rather than natural oases, cities are increasingly taking a leadership role when it comes to protecting biodiversity.”

We also are fortunate in Toronto to have remaining natural heritage system including protected natural areas (the ESAs/ANSI/PSWs), additionally to ravines and other sensitive habitats (waterfront).

In the text of our Official Plan, designated areas (the ESA/ANSI/PSW) get a high level of protection centering on:

The City Official Plan adopted a high level of protection regarding designated natural heritage Toronto Official Plan Office Consolidation February 2019 Chapter 3,4 Natural Environment

the ESA/ANSIs : “Activities will be limited to those that are compatible with the preservation of the natural features and ecological functions attributed to the areas”

Unfortunately, the reality on the ground, even now after 7 year of the city adopting the ESAs protections into the Official Plan, is far from what biodiversity needs to thrive.

Management plans prioritizing protection, as required by adopted laws, are lacking for our ESAs. Unsustainable and non compatible use are presently putting pressures on our precious areas undermining native fauna (stress, harm, fragmentation, disturbance) and flora (trampling).

I do participate in Toronto Island Master Plan efforts on behalf of ProtectNatureTO and am well aware of the challenge but we knew that growth poses a big challenge to remaining  TO nature which was the very reason behind many years of the studies, mapping and eventually codifying of the laws to protect the most valuable nature provincially and municipally.

Our Plan Toronto: Draft Environment and Climate Change Official Plan Policy Updates  just recently proclaimed:

“The City of Toronto has a strong legacy of introducing leading-edge policies to protect the natural environment and address climate change…This Official Plan update emphasizes achieving net zero emissions and climate adaptation and reliance. Protection and enhancement of the City's natural heritage system and water resource systems is a key element of climate adaptation and resilience."

We have the laws and good plans but need to take these good intentions down to the ground to support biodiversity.

Recently, another member of nature organization and myself made a submission to the Budget Committee reflecting on the issues affecting our protected natural areas.

(February 15, 2023) Letter from Clyde Robinson, on behalf of Ashbridge’s Bay Nature Stewards and Lenka Holubec, member of ProtectNatureTO (MPB.Supp)

"Proposed Funding for a pilot project allocating Special Constables to patrol selected natural parks to enforce on leash rules and achieve compliance where this is critical to protect ecosystem from negative effects associated with the off leash dogs"

Nature protection was never needed more than now but the way to get there is not easy in Toronto, Ontario with the Greenbelt, and in CAN in general. 

Looking forward to tonight's presentation.


Lenka Holubec, member High Park Nature and ProtectNatureTO

Federal government is talking out of both sides of its mouth on biodiversity loss