WHAT’S GOING ON HERE? Tree analysis alongside Guelph’s Pace River

There is tree research underway along Guelph’s Silvercreek Trail, so say the neon orange tags tied to tree branches near the Speed River.

Just the facts

“The trees serve as a focal point for our research,” said Mike Dinka, a teacher at Centennial Collegiate Vocational Institute.

Though there are only eight trees tagged, the orange tape stands out among the still-bare trees along the trail just south of the river, West of Edinburgh Road. “Tree research underway. Please do not remove,” reads the message on the tags.

The students in Dinka’s Grade 11 environmental science class are working in small groups, with each group having chosen a tree to observe.

“The question the students need to answer is ‘what connections within the Speed River ecosystem are necessary for our tree to survive?’” Dinka explained in an email to the Guelph Mercury Tribune.

The trees are at the centre of the research, but they are really looking at the river ecosystem as a whole, he said.

The project was inspired by a 2020 article in the Waterloo Region Record detailing how badly the Speed River had been polluted in the past, Dinka said.

“I wanted to understand how the river had gone from a dump to a functional ecosystem,” he said.

The students walk from the school to the riverside trail every other week to collect data and take pictures. Their project will wrap up at the end of the semester and the orange tags will be removed from the trees then, Dinka said.

“That said, we will be back in the fall with a new group of EnviroSci students,” he said.

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