Prescribed burns planned in Toronto’s High Park this spring to sustain threatened habitat

The City of Toronto will conduct prescribed (controlled) burns in High Park in early to mid- April as part of a long-term management plan to protect and sustain Toronto’s rare black oak savannahs.

City staff will monitor weather conditions and set the date for the burns when ideal weather conditions are expected. Staff will announce the exact date and time at least 24 hours prior to the burn.

Signage will be placed at entrances to the park to notify users of the prescribed burns. The public will be restricted from entering prescribed burn areas and park users should expect limited access to some trails and areas adjacent to the burn sites. Residents and visitors should anticipate some temporary road closures and reduced parking within the park.

A prescribed burn is a deliberately set and carefully controlled fire that burns low to the ground and consumes dried leaves, small twigs and grass stems, but does not harm larger trees. The City has been safely executing prescribed burns in Toronto parks for more than a decade. Prescribed burns are part of the City’s long-term management plan to protect and sustain Toronto’s rare black oak woodlands and savannahs in High Park, Lambton Park and South Humber Park. These rare vegetation communities are at risk of extinction not only in Toronto but throughout North America.

Under ideal weather conditions, the smoke from the prescribed burns would lift and not affect surrounding neighbourhoods. It is possible, however, that some smoke will reach residential areas near the parks. Individuals with asthma and those highly sensitive to poison ivy should limit their exposure to the smoke by staying inside and keeping windows closed. Some people may choose to leave the general area of the park on the day of the burn if they are concerned about the smoke.

The City hired a Fire Boss with extensive prescribed burning experience to create the 2018 burn plan and implement it with assistance from staff. Toronto Fire Services and the police have been notified and will assist if required.

In the months following the burn, results will be analyzed and any additional forest management techniques will be implemented as required. Techniques may include measures such as invasive species control, planting of native trees, shrubs and grasses, and ongoing site maintenance.

More information about the City’s prescribed burns is available at

This news release is also available on the City’s website:

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