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2nd Annual Ravine Symposium

Friday, November 3, 2017, 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
With ongoing and increasing threats – such as climate change, invasive species and watershed urbanization – how do we restore ecological function to urban ravines? This is the question we will explore at TBG’s 2nd Annual Ravine Symposium.

Inspired by the City of Toronto’s ravine strategy, the stewardship work of city and conservation authority staff and community groups, and our own expansion plans involving Wilket Creek ravine, TBG held its first ravine symposium in fall 2016. Through tours, talks, panel discussions, displays and networking, this year’s event will continue the conversations and strengthen the connections initiated at last year’s event.

After lunch, the 2017 Aster Awards will be presented to the TBG Environmentalist of the Year and two TBG Rising Stars.

Lunch is provided and parking is free. Click here for directions by car, bike and public transit.

Early bird registration (until Sept 15): $85

Registration fee (as of Sept 16): Public $105; Members/students $95
Symposium Social: $10 (additional fee, optional)

Follow the conversation @TBG_Canada #LoveTheRavines



Time Description
8 to 9:15 a.m. Registration, coffee and tea

At 8:30 a.m., attendees can remain at TBG or participate in a ravine hike led by Toronto Field Naturalists and Toronto Aboriginal Eco Tour; Garden tour

9:15 to 9:30 a.m. Welcome by Lorraine Johnson and Harry Jongerden
9:30 to 10:10 a.m. Indigenous perspectives by Alan Colley, Toronto Aboriginal Eco Tours
10:10 to 10:30 a.m. Controlling invasive plants in and around ravines by Stephen Smith, Urban Forest Associates
10:30 to 10:45 a.m. Morning Break
10:45 a.m. to Noon Panel One: Stewardship on public land
Noon to 1 p.m. Lunch Break

At 12:30 p.m., attendees can enjoy an extended lunch, tour indoor exhibits, or participate in a ravine hike (led by Toronto Aboriginal Eco Tour) or garden tour.

1 to 1:30 p.m. TBG 2017 Aster Awards presentation
1:30 to 2:45 p.m. Panel Two: Stewardship on private land
2:45 to 3 p.m. DSV biocontrol by Sandy Smith, University of Toronto
3 to 4:15 p.m. Panel Three: Seeds
4:15 to 4:30 p.m. Concluding Remarks by Lorraine Johnson and Harry Jongerden
4:30 to 5:30 p.m. Symposium Social (additional fee)

Panel 1: Public land stewardship
Facilitator: Jason Ramsay Brown

Panel 2: Private land stewardship
Facilitator: Lorraine Johnson

Panel 3: Seeds
Facilitator: Sandra Pella


Colleen Cirillo
Colleen has spent many years in the world of nature interpretation, protection and restoration, including over a decade at Toronto and Region Conservation and 2.5 years at Ontario Nature. In October 2015, she took over as director of education at the Toronto Botanical Garden. Colleen is also a board member of the North American Native Plant Society, and a committee member for the Ontario Invasive Plant Council.
Alan Colley
Alan’s spirit name is Whooping Crane and he is Wolf Clan. Alan is the creator of Toronto Aboriginal Eco Tours, a company which honors the traditional Indigenous way of life and also allows for mainstream concepts of tourism and experiential learning. His goal is to bring together – in a traditional way – elders, adults, youth and children to make a difference while applying the seven Grandfather Teachings, 13 Grandmother Moon Teachings and the Medicine Wheel Teachings. Alan is the father of three young active boys and an avid fisherman.
Isaac Crosby
Isaac also known as Brother Nature, grew up in Harrow, a small farming community 30 minutes south of Windsor. He is proud of his First Nations (Chippewa) and Black Canadian heritage and enjoys sharing their histories. Isaac studied landscape horticulture at Humber College and is currently the urban agriculture lead hand at Evergreen Brickworks. He combines traditional farming techniques and knowledge with what he learned at college to grow healthy crops, to teach others, and to do his part in saving the earth.
Eric Davies
Eric is a PhD candidate at the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Forestry. He has a diploma in ecosystem management and more than 20 years of experience studying all aspects of forest biodiversity – including trees, wildflowers, insects, mammals, fish and birds. His current work looks at how best to design forest ecosystems for maximum biodiversity, ecosystem services and resilience. Eric is also passionate about Ontario’s last remaining old-growth trees and forests and their preservation as lifeboats for biodiversity and seed sources for restoration.
Paula Davies
Paula is a long-time environmental advocate and steward. She has initiated and served on many committees and boards including the East York Advisory Committee on the Environment, Friends of the Don East, the Task Force to Bring Back the Don, the Don Regeneration Council, and the Todmorden Mills Wildflower Preserve – of which she is a founding member and president. Paula is a member of Toronto Field Naturalists, Field Botanists of Ontario, Ontario Invasive Plant Council, and the Ontario Phragmites Working Group. Paula is an Ontario Certified Teacher in art, geography and history.
Sean Fox
Sean is the arboretum manager and head horticulturist at the University of Guelph Arboretum. Here he oversees a collection of more than 2,000 taxa of trees and shrubs, with a particular focus on the regional flora of Ontario. During the past 17 years, Sean has spent a significant portion of his time working on the Rare Woody Plants of Ontario Program and the Elm Recovery Project, both based out of the arboretum. Through stewardship, archiving, seed production and restoration, these programs help protect the genetics of Ontario’s threatened species.
Kirushanth Gnanachandran
Kirushanth completed an honours degree in ecology and evolution, with a minor in geography, and a post grad certificate in environmental control. He was the stewardship coordinator at The Riverwood Conservancy in Mississauga from 2014 to 2017 before taking on the role of engagement officer at the Rouge National Urban Park. While at Riverwood, he worked with community and corporate volunteers on restoration projects, leading regular cleanups, tree plantings, and invasive plant removals. Since 2011 he has also worked with local conservation authorities on habitat improvement projects. Fun facts: Kirushanth means ‘flower’ and Gnanachandran means ‘knowledge of moon.
Jessica Iraci
Jessica is a Parks Programs Officer with Natural Environment and Community Programs at the City of Toronto. She coordinates the Community Stewardship Program, an initiative that engages volunteers in planting and other stewardship activities in naturalization sites across Toronto. Jessica graduated from the University of Toronto with a B.Sc. in biology and environmental science, and received her Masters in Forestry in 2012. Her research focused on the sustainability of forest management techniques.
Lorraine Johnson
Lorraine is the author of numerous book related to environmental issues, native plants, and natural history, such as 100 Easy-to-Grow Native Plants, Tending the Earth, City Farmer, and The Treasure of Carolinian Canada. She has been involved with many non-profit organizations, including LEAF, North American Native Plant Society, and the Alex Wilson Community Garden, and is a Patron of the Toronto Botanical Garden. She is the editor of Ground: Landscape Architect Quarterly.
Harry Jongerden
Harry became the Executive Director of the Toronto Botanical Garden in July of 2013. Prior to this appointment he was the Garden Director at VanDusen Botanical Garden and Bloedel Conservatory in Vancouver. In his five years at VanDusen, Harry led a garden revival that included a new $22 million “Living Building” visitor centre which won World Architecture News awards for the world’s highest achievement in engineering and the world’s most significant achievement in sustainability. Before heading west, Harry held the positions of Head of Horticulture and Garden Designer/Horticulturist at Royal Botanical Gardens, Head Gardener at the Stratford Festival of Canada, and gardener at the City of Toronto.
Sharon Lovett
Sharon is a business analyst at the Centre for Social Innovation and a volunteer with High Park Stewards (HPS). In this latter role, she advocates for the protection and restoration of native plant communities and promotes citizen science in parks and private gardens. She has been the main contact for HPS since 2006, and has documented the group’s efforts to protect and restore High Park’s Black Oak Savanna through photography. Sharon enjoys sharing her passion for native plants and community stewardship with others through presentations.
Janet McKay
Janet holds an Honours BA in Environment and Resource Management and a Permaculture design certificate. In 1996 she founded LEAF a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the protection and care of the urban forest. Initially started as a small neighbourhood project, LEAF now operates in 12 municipalities within the Greater Toronto Area. With a focus on community and stakeholder engagement, LEAF seeks creative and collaborative solutions to urban forest challenges. Janet is also a founding member of the Green Infrastructure Ontario Coalition.
Sandra Pella
Sandra earned a degree in political science from the University of Western Ontario and, upon graduation, worked in the financial sector until the pull of plants was too much to resist. She worked for a number of private nurseries before joining the City of Toronto as a gardener for two years and then moving to Toronto Botanical Garden, where she has been the head gardener since 2008.
Jason Ramsay-Brown
Jason is the author of Toronto’s Ravines and Urban Forests (2015). He serves as vice-president of the Toronto Field Naturalists (TFN), and represented the TFN on the City of Toronto’s Ravine Strategy Advisory Group. He is a volunteer on the Beechwood Wetland and Todmorden Mills Wildflower Preserve stewardship teams and is a member of the Ontario chapter of the Society for Ecological Restoration.
Dr. Sandy Smith
Sandy is a professor and dean at the Faculty of Forestry at the University of Toronto (UT). She is cross-appointed to the university’s Centre for the Environment and Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology. Sandy has lectured and conducted research at the university since 1988. She completed her Bachelor and Masters in agriculture at the University of Guelph and her PhD in forestry entomology at UT, and has worked with the Canadian Forest Service and European Biocontrol Laboratories in France and Switzerland.
Stephen Smith
Stephen is a forester, ISA Certified Arborist and owner of Urban Forest Associates. Over the past 35 years, he has designed and supervised numerous ecological restoration projects throughout Ontario. Stephen also researched and wrote the invasive plant species list for Ontario and speaks frequently about invasive plant management. He is a founding member of the Society for Ecological Restoration Ontario, a member of the Ontario Invasive Plant Council and Landscape Ontario, and a director of the Forest Gene Conservation Association. Stephen is heavily involved in the restoration and management of many Toronto ravine properties.
Melissa Spearing
Melissa is a professional seed grower and conservationist. She grew-up on her family’s nursery, Ground Covers Unlimited near Peterborough, and is now leading the nursery’s foray into locally-sourced native plant production. To understand all aspects of seed production and storage, she became a certified seed collector through the Forest Gene Conservation Association (FGCA), earned a certificate in seed conservation science from the Millennium Seed Bank in England, and worked for the National Tree Seed Bank in Fredericton, NB. Melissa is the seed program coordinator at FGCA, advancing the use of biologically-appropriate woody plants for restoration, and the banking of seeds for future use and research.
Alex Verbinnen
Alex is the propagation manager at Verbinnen’s Nursery, a wholesale nursery specializing in the propagation and growing of native species from seed. Alex is a third generation grower. He finished his Bachelor of Science in Agriculture at the University of Guelph, having majored in Horticulture. Alex lives on the family farm in Hamilton with his wife and three kids.
Jane Welsh
Jane is the Project Manager for Environmental Planning in the Strategic Initiatives, Policy and Analysis unit of Toronto City Planning. Her 25 years of municipal planning experience include development and implementation of Toronto’s Green Standard, Green Roof Bylaw, Ravine Protection Bylaw and many more leading-edge initiatives. She is also responsible for policy tools for natural heritage protection, biodiversity, climate change, energy and sustainable development and preparation of environmental policies for the Toronto Official Plan. Jane is currently co-leading development of the City’s Ravine Strategy. Jane has a Bachelor of Landscape Architecture from the University of Guelph and a Masters of Science in Planning from the University of Toronto. She has served as a volunteer with the Ontario Association of landscape Architects for over 20 years on the Honours, Awards and Protocol Committee, was elected to Council in 2014, and is currently vice-president of the OALA. 

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