Forestry teamwork

November 8, 2018

rashidA gaggle of Master of Forest Conservation students from the Faculty of Forestry, University of Toronto, gathered at Sunnybrook hospital Thursday morning to plant some trees.

The hospital in October had welcomed a team from a large national corporation, whom we shall not name here, to plant trees on the hospital grounds. Sunnybrook takes trees seriously and has worked in the past few years to enhance its tree canopy.

Back in October, the aforementioned corporate team of 15 didn’t do so hot at planting trees. Presumably these staffers converged at Sunnybrook for some team-building, but did more team-building than tree planting; after four hours they’d managed to plant 60 trees. These are not big trees; they are saplings, maybe a metre or so high, in about 5-litre pots.

Describing these corporate types, a woman from the Grounds crew said, dismissively, “one of them showed up in flip-flops.”

It seems that Sunnybrook had acquired about 180 trees for this event, so after the corporate “tree-planters” departed, the hospital ended up with more than 100 trees in pots, languishing somewhat hopefully (or perhaps sadly) on the pavement in front of the Grounds department’s front door. I went by to interview someone at the hospital for my Master’s thesis, and happened to notice all these trees. So silly me, I asked whether Sunnybrook needed some volunteers to do the job. Sunnybrook said yes. Thankfully our students are good sports, and seven students showed up to plant. The trees in question included hackberry, white spruce, hickory, poplar, birch and white pine. In about 2 ½ hours we planted 110 trees.


tree planters

Later the hospital bought us pizza and as we sat around eating with the Grounds crew, I mentioned that we’d planted trees that like full sun, such as birch and poplar, along the south-facing slope, where we hope they will outcompete the pervasive dog-strangling vine.

“Wait,” said the Grounds crew member. “You mean you guys also made decisions to plant trees in different spots based on the characteristics of the trees?”

Well, um, yeah, we kinda did. That’s what they teach us in forestry school.

Oh and it was also a great team-building exercise.