The good earth.

Autumn is well under way and the wooded area at the southern end of the park is undergoing a transformation. Many leaves are off the trees, changing the canopy dramatically and the increased light on the freshly fallen leaves has created a brightly coloured carpet.

A carpet of colour.

A carpet of colour.

This part of the park always reminds me of the nave of a great cathedral. Sadly, many of the trees in the woods are Norway maples which produce little colour and need a frost to dislodge them.

The fresh colours of early autumn.

The fresh colours of early autumn.

If there was ever any doubt as to the ability of trees in a park to act as a carbon sink, the soil in the woods provides ample evidence. The site was once a rubbish tip but has been wooded for a few decades. In that time, annual cascades of leaves have fallen and decomposed in place, leaving much of their carbon behind to form a deep and rich loam. This summer, a few trees were downed by strong winds and the uprooted trees reveal a soil that is incredibly black and rich in carbon.

Dark black loam, rich in nutrients.

Dark black loam, rich in nutrients and especially carbon.

It is estimated that Canada’s boreal forests (yes, even Raymore Park’s tiny woods) store up to 80% of the carbon they pull out of the air. This is because our cool climate drastically slows carbon’s oxidation back into the atmosphere. On the other hand, a mature tropical forest sequesters very little carbon. But wait, there’s more; boreal forests moderate a region’s climate by warming winter air (more sunlight is absorbed by trees than by snow). In summer, leaf transpiration keeps temperatures down so trees in our part of the world are definitely a great resource.

Toronto has a front yard tree planting program that allows residents to receive a native tree in the city-owned portion of their front yard for free. A selection of species is available and they’ll even do the planting. This is in an effort to raise the canopy cover of our city from around 27% to 40%. A laudable goal that will improve life for all residents and help with the escalating carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere.

 

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