Over the last several weeks, along with our community partners, we’ve had the incredible opportunity to create microforests at various locations across Waterloo Region to create a vibrant outdoor space for multiple communities for years to come. Read on to learn more about our re-forestation project and a recap of how our community partners have helped us make a sustainable difference. 

What is our Microforest Project?

Launched in 2021, we started this project to create a space for two regional schools to provide a local habitat for wildlife, absorb heat from the parking lots nearby, reduce stormwater runoff, and will be a space for communities to enjoy for years to come. When we started last year, we were able to plant 200 trees on one sunny November morning. Now in our second year of this project, we were able to expand this program to five WRDSB schools and one technology hub across Waterloo Region. Spots include Lincoln Heights PS, Sandowne PS, Parkway PS, Centennial PS, Wilson Avenue PS, and the David Johnston Research + Technology Park. This year, we’ve expanded our planting reach to more locations and have been able to plant 600 trees in October and November 

Photo Credit: Ross Howey – Waterloo Region District School Board (WRDSB)

How do we choose a Microforest site? 

Although we’d love to plant microforests everywhere in the region, choosing our sites requires careful planning. Typically, in order for us to be able to create a microforest, we need an area of 500 square feet, an area that will not be developed for buildings, sportsfields, parking lots, etc.; being close to a water source is vital for the first two months, and being able to close off the area temporarily, so the trees have time to become stronger for everyone to enjoy. We also strive, when planting in school locations, to ensure that we are bringing this green infrastructure to less privileged areas of the community that may not have the resources for greening initiatives like this. 

Photo Credit: Ross Howey – Waterloo Region District School Board (WRDSB)

What’s a day in the life like at our Microforest Tree Planting Day?

On multiple Saturday mornings (and a Monday), we got together with 20-30 volunteers for a couple of hours of tree planting. Our volunteers, teams, from local organizations and even some students, were more than ready, and the energy was inspiring. After taking part in some (very important) specialty tree planting stretches, our volunteers got to work on carefully digging holes, planting trees, and mulching in record time. Teamwork truly made the dream work to make this all possible. 

What types of trees did we plant this fall?

All the trees planted are native species for our region and we work in partnerships with GRCA to select which species work in these locations and to purchase the trees directly from our Conservation Authority. The tree types include:

  • Red/silver maple hybrid
  • Oak
  • Hackberry
  • Kentucky Coffee Tree
  • Shagbark Hickory
  • Sugar Maple
  • Sycamore
  • Tulip Tree
  • White cedar
  • White Pine
  • White Spruce

Shrub types:

  • Gray dogwood
  • Serviceberry
  • Staghorn Sumac
  • Redbud

As you can tell, we are able to plant a variety of different trees, and this year we were so grateful to be able to expand our range in tree species from 11 to 15 different tree types in varying amounts across our microforest sites depending on soil type and site features. We used these types of trees as they are native species, and also different trees/shrubs were planted at different sites depending on soil type and site features. This was all thanks to this year’s sponsors: AET Group, Ages Foundation,EY, Grandbridge Energy,, Wilfrid Laurier University, and YNCU

Our Microforest Program is one of our favourite projects of the year as we can help transform existing spaces into future lush and vibrant areas that benefit the land they reside on and bring together so many people in our region for a great cause. Wondering how you can get involved in our next installment of our microforest tree planting project? There are so many ways to get involved, whether you’re an organization or an individual contributor–we’d love to have you onboard! Learn more here, and be sure to fill out our form at the bottom of the page to be the first to know when we are ready for planting our 2023 microforests!