Meet the man on a mission to map Toronto’s oldest trees

Meet the man on a mission to map Toronto’s oldest trees

Forestry expert Eric Davies says Toronto’s oldest trees have valuable special abilities – they’ve evolved to thrive here for hundreds of years.

How old is your most elderly neighbour? 80? 95?

Try 250. Maybe even older – assuming your neighbour is a tree.

Eric Davies, a U of T PhD candidate in forestry, is on a mission to map Toronto’s oldest and largest native trees. And he wants the wider community to appreciate them and help spread their most valuable assets: seeds.

Planting maple keys, acorns and hickory nuts taken from trees that have been here for centuries isn’t just a fun fall activity, Davies said. It’s a way to seed an urban forest that will be able to handle environmental turmoil in the future.

“If these trees are 200 or 150 years old, they’ve withstood hundreds of years – and actually, in their genes, thousands of years – of climatic variation,” Davies said.

In other words, these trees have lived so long because they have great genes. Their ancestors lived in the Toronto area. They’ve evolved to thrive here.

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