07/31/2015 11:39 EDT | Updated 07/31/2016 05:59 EDT

Urban foraging against Toronto park bylaws, city warns

The City of Toronto is urging people to stop foraging for food in city parks, claiming it's damaging the natural environment.

Foraging — the practice of removing plant life for eating or other purposes — is prohibited by Toronto Parks Bylaws, but that hasn't stopped a number of enthusiasts from harvesting special ingredients.

Urban foraging has grown in popularity as foodies, and some local chefs, have focused on using fresh, wild foods in their dishes. Fruits, berries and mushrooms are some of the most foraged foods, though flowers, nettles and other plants are also coveted.

"Harvesting plants removes seed sources that allow the plants to spread, and decreases biodiversity and food sources for wildlife," the city said in a statement.

"It would only take a small number of foragers to remove the majority of plant resources growing in the city."

In addition to the removal  of plants, parks staff are also worried about people damaging soils by creating informal trails.

City officials say they're most worried about the city's ravines, which are considered environmentally significant areas due to their rare species and diverse habitats.