The 2013 Prescribed Burn in High Park

We had the amazing opportunity to watch part of this year’s controlled burn here in High Park. The rare Black Oak Savannah habitat found in the Park was once subject to frequent forest fires.  The native plants in the Black Oak Savannah have adapted over thousands of years to survive these regular forest fires. The fires helped to renew the Savannah habitat and encouraged stronger plant growth.  


Once the area around High Park was settled forest fires were a thing of the past. For over 100 years the Black Oak Savannah in High Park went without the rejuvenating  effects of a forest fire. High Park had become a manicured City Park with lawns and a concrete edge around Grenadier Pond. Over the past few decades naturalization efforts by the Forestry and Natural Environment crews within the City have worked to naturalize certain areas of High Park including Grenadier Pond and the rare Black Oak Savannah.

These efforts include starting a series of controlled burns throughout the Savannah habitat. The areas to be burned rotate each year. Often these areas have a number of invasive plant species that are unable to survive the burn process. The controlled burns are low, controlled fires. Trees supporting local wildlife are given a wide berth and the fire itself isn’t strong enough to damage the larger trees. After a burn the native plants in the area grow stronger and healthier helping to protect this rare habitat for future generations to enjoy! Continue reading “The 2013 Prescribed Burn in High Park”

Prescribed Burn in High Park

If you noticed the smoke coming from the west end on Thursday then you saw the prescribed burn done here in High Park.  Almost every spring the Black Oak Savannah gets a small, controlled dose of forest fire to keep it healthy and help it regenerate.

The Black Oak Savannah is a rare type of habitat, a small example of which can be found here in the Park.  Traditionally this type of habitat would have small forest fires sweep through every year.  Among other things the fire would help break down seed coats that require high heat to break open so the plants can grow.  These days we rarely have a forest fire in the middle of the city (fortunately) so our Forestry Staff, Fire Department and Police have to work together to help nature along.

Our Park Supervisor Jorge was there and took some great pictures of the burn:

You should also check out the “Prescribed Burn” walks hosted by the High Park Nature Centre.  You can make seed balls and help the native plants grow here in the park!

Now if I can just get the smell of campfire out of the office!