Native plants are equipped to live with the local climate, soil types, and animals. They are an important part of the web of life. Unfortunately however, they are decreasing in population at an alarming rate. Removing one native plant from an ecosystem will have a detrimental effect on the species associated with them as well (NPSNO 2016). For example, by removing a native plant, an insect that feeds on the plant will also be removed as well, along with birds that feed on those insects. For example, native plants do a better job of providing food and shelter for native wild animals than do introduced plants (NPSNO 2016). To protect and ensure their survival, there are policies that have been implanted by Toronto, York University, Canada and Ontario.
Toronto’s policy on Native plants
The city of Toronto has set out policies on protecting and help conserve native species. Their policy states that protecting and enhancing natural environment and biodiversity are high priorities for Toronto. Toronto’s natural heritage features and functions were mapped and were identified as NHS, which means Natural Heritage System. It includes City’s Environmentally significant areas (ESA’s), areas of natural and scientific features (ANSIs), provincially significant wetlands, watercourses and forests. Many of these areas are found within the network of ravines that cross the city as well as along the Lake Ontario shoreline. These areas provide habitats for a wide variety of native plants and animals, and sustain local biodiversity. Policy initiatives aim to reduce the impact of the built environment on biodiversity and the natural environment (City of Toronto 2016).
Also by the city of Toronto, there are policies about how and what native plants should be planted. A list is given to determine the types of native plants are available to plant and they include herbaceous, trees, vines and shrubs. Within those categories, several lists of trees are offered with specific rules on which soils they’re mostly found under and which places to be avoided and so on.
This figure represents some of the native plants that are allowed to be planted with specific instructions (city of Toronto 2016).
York’s Policy on Native Plants
There are unfortunately no specific policies on native plant species at York University, however they do have a sustainability policy. This policy talks about how the university is working towards a more sustainable institution. Progress will be monitored, and goals that are measurable will be adopted and taken care of. York will attempt to be at the lead of sustainability research and education using its capacity and expertise to promote sustainability within and beyond the University, with its alumni, governments and the surrounding communities (York University 2016).
However, research has been used to develop a citywide greenroof policy, approved by city council in February 2006. The new policy includes a commitment to greening new and existing roofs on municipal buildings whenever feasible, and development of initiatives which will provide financial incentives for greenroof implementation. The greenroof is a low-nutrient, low competition environment that can support conservative or rare native plants of concern. York University jointly funded with several other organizations to create this program (TRCA 2006).The monitoring study was conducted on a portion of the roof on the York University Computer Science and Engineering building (Figure 1). Constructed in 2001, the building is located on the York University campus in the City of Toronto, and drains to Black Creek, a tributary of the Humber watershed.
This figure represents the portion of the roof which makes up the study area is covered by two surfaces: conventional shingles, referred to as the control roof, and the garden. Both roof surfaces have a 10% slope. The control roof (131 m2) is just over half the size of the 241m2 garden. The garden consists of 140 mm of growing media and is vegetated with wildflowers. The growing media is composed of crushed volcanic rock, compost, blonde peat, cooked clay and washed sand. It was designed to be lightweight, retain water and resist compaction (TRCA 2006).
Canada’s policy on native plants
Although there are no specific policies on native plant species, there are however policies on the prevention on invasive plants. In the year of 1990, the plant protection act was passed as a means to prevent the importation, exportation and the spread of pests that are injurious to plants and to provide for their control and eradication and for the certification of plants. The invasive plants policy states that pest plants are regulated in the same manner as other pest organisms, such as pathogens and insects. The decision to regulate a plant as a pest will be based on scientific and other risk-based factors including cost and feasibility. Pest risk analyses (PRAs) will be used, as the basis for considering the regulation of invasive plants and plants that can be pathways for other pests. (Government of Canada 2016).
There are many projects that are underway to take control of protecting native plant species in Canada however. One of them is naturalized shelter belts with native species in Newfoundland. St. John’s has successfully developed a series of naturalized shelter belts along roadsides, steep slopes and other difficult to maintain areas. These belts have been augmented with additional native plantings to buffer unsightly infrastructure such as communication towers (Ingram 2001).
This figure shows the effects after implementing shelter belts around areas in protection of native plants. The last plot represents how the use of shelter belts increased the abundance of native plants.
Ontario’s policy on native plants
Although there are no direct policies for the protection of native species in Ontario, there are rules to prevent and control the invasive species in the natural environment. There are two categories of invasive species in the provincial law, prohibited and restricted. Prohibited invasive species may be found in Ontario, but aren’t yet established in Ontario. Restricted species are already established in the province and is to be prevented of their spread. A few of the restricted invasive species include, dog-strangling vine, black-dog strangling vine, Japanese knotweed and phragmites. These are illegal to be brought into conservation or provincial parks. However, it is not illegal to try to manage or control it outside of the provincial and conservation parks. Management practices are being done to prevent further spread of dog-strangling vines (Government of Canada 2016).
This figure represents the strangling dog vine. One of the most successful invasive plant species.
Guide to Toronto Native plant lists. 2016.City of Toronto. Available from http://www1.toronto.ca/wps/portal/contentonly?vgnextoid=450e76a66d04e410VgnVCM10000071d60f89RCRD&vgnextchannel=5fc4cacb759e0410VgnVCM10000071d60f89RCRD
Importance of Native Plants. 2016. The native plant society of northeastern Ohio. Available from http://nativeplantsocietyneo.squarespace.com/importance-of-native-plants/
Ingram J. 2001. Urban naturalization in Canada: a policy and program guidebook. Evergreen.
Secretariat policies. 2016. Sustainability policies. York University. Available from http://secretariat-policies.info.yorku.ca/policies/sustainability-policy/
Stop the spread of invasive species. 2016.Government of Ontario. Available from https://www.ontario.ca/page/stop-spread-invasive-species
TRCA. 2006. Evaluation of an Extensive Greenroof. York University. :167.