Cottonwood Flats Monitoring Project (CFMP)
History of The Project
In July, 2016, staff from the City of Toronto's Natural Environment and Community Programs (NECP) section of Urban Forestry approached the TFN to request our participation in developing and implementing a long-term ecological monitoring program at Cottonwood Flats, a small parcel of successional habitat that occupies a post-industrial site on the eastern banks of the Don River near Crothers Woods.
The site was once home to a rockwool factory, was used as a disposal site for concrete debris, and until recently served as a primary site for dumping snow plowed from city streets. Between 2009 and 2014, the City, TRCA, Task Force to Bring Back the Don, and Schollen and Company created and executed a restoration plan designed primarily to provide habitat for ground-nesting birds. A key feature of this plan was an approximately one acre "songbird meadow," fully enclosed by permanent fencing, meant to help secure the space from trampling, off-leash dogs, and other potential threats.
Throughout 2016, in conjunction with NECP, various TFN members contributed their efforts, insights, and expertise to developing strategies and protocols that could be used to monitor and assess the site year-to-year. The TFN's final proposal was approved by the City in January, 2017, with "on the ground" activities to start the following April.
Future of The Project
The CFMP provides exciting opportunities for TFN members to actively engage in citizen science & stewardship, and make positive contributions to nature in the city. Each year, the TFN will conduct two vegetation surveys and six site monitoring sessions. Data collected will be used to determine plant and animal biodiversity in the area and assess overall trends in species richness and abundance. Further, the TFN will provide ongoing ecological enhancement recommendations for the site which will help inform the City of Toronto's management plans for the site, including invasive species control, species introduction, and habitat feature creation/maintenance. TFN members will also have to opportunity to participate directly in the improvement of habitat at the site by becoming involved with the City of Toronto's Community Stewardship Program