City plans for controlled burn in Toronto’s High Park to preserve rare ecosystem

City officials say they are planning to conduct a deliberate and controlled burn in Toronto’s High Park next month to protect and sustain rare black oak savannahs.

According to a statement issued by the city, this is part of the city’s long-term management plan to protect these plants, as they are at risk of extinction.

The savannahs are a rare ecosystem in Canada, made up of grasses, shrubs, and oaks.

According to the city, they are dependent on fire in order to be maintained in open space.

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“Prior to European settlement, controlled burns were used by Indigenous people to manage and maintain fire-dependent ecosystems including the black oak savannahs in High Park,” the statement read.

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The city said that the burn will be scheduled in advance based on the weather conditions. Residents will be advised with the exact day and time at least 24-48 hours prior to the event.

“Under ideal weather conditions, the smoke from the prescribed burns would lift and not affect surrounding neighbourhoods. It is possible, however, that some smoke will reach residential areas near the parks,” the statement read.

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Warnings and notices will be placed at the park and the community when the fire takes place. The park will be closed at the time of the burn.

The city advised residents with asthma or sensitivity to poison ivy should stay indoors and keep windows closed in order to limit exposure to the smoke.

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