UW Urban Forest

At 5 hectares, the UW Urban Forest - located between the Village, Health Services and Westmount Road North - is the largest remaining wooded green space on campus. It is characterized by habitats ranging from the creek bed of Laurel Creek to marshy floodplains, and a moist forest composed of various Great-Lakes-St. Lawrence forest tree species (e.g. white oak and black cherry). Since the creation of the University of Waterloo Urban Woodlot project, many studies have taken place. The woodlot contains over 150 monitoring plots to conduct research.

The goal of this program is to:

  1. Provide relevant, experiential learning activities for students
  2. Provide undergraduate and graduate research opportunities
  3. Inspire the community of University of Waterloo through local, grass-roots activities
  4. Showcase teaching and research to UW community
  5. Connect with local community beyond campus
  6. Contribute to mental health and well being.

Monitoring projects include:

  • Annual bird surveys with rare sightings that included the Prothonotary Warbler and Wild Turkey
  • Tree mapping of approximately 1,500 trees and 25 unique species, where measurements include tagging, location, size, and health
  • Mapping of all Rhamnus cathartica (European Buckthorn) in the woodlot
  • Mapping of all invasive herbaceous plants including Alliaria petiolata (garlic mustard), Dipsacus fullonum (teasel), and Arctium Lappa (burdock)
  • Monitoring of weather (dataloggers) and snow depths throughout winter months

Community engagement:

Students have embraced this urban forest and over 30 volunteers have helped to tag trees, identify plants, take weather and snow measurements, and remove invasive plants. Students have also contributed to research through course field activities and our outreach enrichment programs.