In the fall of 2003 and again in September 2004, London Community Foundation hosted two “Foundations for Change” meetings, which resulted in planning reports and proposals for future initiatives. One of these initiatives, ReForest City, was conceived by the Urban League and funded by the London Community Foundation.
This new initiative planted trees in three visible locations around the city – Adelaide-York and Adelaide-King intersections, London International Airport and Westminster Campus of the London Health Sciences Centre. These plantings are intended to demonstrate how a densely planted public space can change the cityscape and to inspire others to plant trees throughout London.
Planting for the Future
In the summer of 2004, the Urban League of London convened a meeting of representatives from City of London, the Upper Thames River Conservation Authority, the Middlesex Stewardship Committee and other local environmental organizations. They reviewed London’s StraTreegic Plan, a long term plan to plant trees in a deliberate and sustained manner in targeted areas throughout the city of London.
At this same time, residents on Emery Street lost many mature and beloved trees through ongoing sewer work. Saddened by the loss of the trees, the residents worked together to lobby the City and local funding sources to raise money and plant many larger trees on both sides of their street. The result is a stunning display of “planting the future today” along this stretch of Emery Street just west of Wortley Road.
Rooting ReForest London
After receiving a substantial grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation and financial support from London Community Foundation, TD Friends of the Environment and the Wetland Habitat Fund, ReForest London took root. Finally, in January 2005, in a ceremony led by Mayor Anne Marie DeCicco, ReForest London was officially launched with the planting of a new Spruce tree in Victoria Park.
The launching of ReForest London established a mandate to improve London’s environmental health by planting trees in the community – along streets, in backyards, in parks, and in natural areas – and provide expertise and funding for groups to plant trees in their own neighbourhoods.
Growing an Urban Forest
ReForest London was born out of the growing concern over tree loss in The Forest City and a growing commitment by the community to take positive action to reverse that trend.
While the need for change was always prevalent, ReForest London is the next logical step to these initiatives. It seeks to implement the StraTreegic Plan and further the work initiated by London Community Foundation’s environmental health forums. The power generated by a motivated community, as demonstrated by the Emery street tree project, inspired the matching funds component of ReForest London.
With continued support from the community and partnerships, we can turn London into an urban forest again!
Celebration of Ten Years
2015 marked ReForest London’s 10th anniversary. Over this ten-year period, ReForest London planted approximately 50,000 native trees and shrubs in more than 200 projects throughout London. We rely on strong community and governmental partnerships and the support of over 24,000 volunteers to support our efforts to keep the ‘Forest’ in Forest City.
In celebration of our tenth anniversary, we took a look back at our stories about how community members and funders got involved in our organization, and we shared some tree stories and planting projects along the way!