By: Madison Sturba, Training & Outreach Intern, Invasive Species Centre
Did you know that forests are home to more than 80% of all terrestrial species? Plants, animals, insects, and humans all benefit from the forests ability to stabilize climate, produce oxygen, regulate water, provide habitat, and supply food.
By Sydney Shepherd, Ontario Piping Plover Conservation Technician, Birds Canada
Piping Plover are a small, sandy coloured shorebird that is listed as endangered both federally and provincially. After a 30-year absence, Piping Plover returned to the shores of Ontario in 2007.
As invertebrate-eating carnivores and habitat specialists, they are considered an indicator species. Their presence (or absence) sends us signals about the health of their habitats. So, where you see Piping Plover, you know you’re on a healthy beach.
By: Ben Teskey, OFAH Atlantic Salmon Restoration Program Coordinator
Picture this: forests, savannas, tall grass prairies, and wetlands full of wildlife; lakes, rivers, and streams teeming with fish. One of these fish, the Atlantic Salmon, is so abundant you could cross rivers by walking on their backs! This is the picture early European explorers and settlers described from when they first arrived in the Lake Ontario region in the 17th and 18th centuries. The air and water were clean, and the ecosystems were healthy, productive, and full of biodiversity.
By: Eric Buiter, Sr. Habitat Technician, Ontario Streams
In today’s world of constant progression, with pressures from large scale land alterations from agricultural intensification to urbanization, it seems like we humans are always on the go, always moving forward with shovel in hand. It’s no wonder how in a world that’s constantly moving forward, we tend to forget the needs of the non-humans when we build things, such as our infrastructure. Roads and bridges are designed to make our lives easier, but how do our movements affect how wildlife gets around?
By Val Masters, Environmental Communications and Social Media Manager, Seeds to Saplings
Did you know that anyone can boost biodiversity? It’s easier than you think to get more insects, mammals, and birds in your backyard. How? Just plant a native tree. Seeds to Saplings is an organization whose mission is to help students of all ages grow a native tree, from a tiny acorn all the way to a towering oak. We focus on getting our free online instructions out to classrooms of all levels, so that kids can grow up with their very own oak.
What wildlife did you see the last time you went outside? What will you see next? Help put Toronto and GTA on the map to win the title of the wildest city in Canada as we gear up to compete in the 2022 City Nature Challenge!
By Tera Shewchenko, Science Writer and Development Coordinator Intern, Invasive Species Centre
Invasive Species Awareness Week (ISAW) is coming up soon! Running from February 28th to March 4th, 2022, ISAW is a digital media campaign that aims to provide resources for learning and to spark discussion on invasive species issues. Whether you’re an environmentalist, an educator or just want to know more, this is an excellent opportunity to learn and get involved.
By Danika Strecko, Senior Manager of Education, Project Learning Tree Canada
Forests cover 31% of the world’s land, support 80% of all land-based biodiversity, and are home to more than 300 million people worldwide. Forests produce oxygen, replenish and filter groundwater, secure soil, and regulate air temperature. When sustainably managed, they provide solutions to some of our most pressing global challenges.
And forests can become outdoor classrooms—places where formal and non-formal educators can engage young learners with hands-on learning and inspire future generations to connect to nature and become stewards of the natural environment
By: Jessica Hurtubise, Environment Department Manager, North Slave Lake Métis Alliance
The Northwest Territories has a lot of water. NWT is home to both Canada’s longest river, the Mackenzie River (1,800 km), and its largest watershed, the Mackenzie River Basin. This watershed spans 3 provinces and 3 territories, covering a whopping 1.8 million km2. That’s almost as big as Mexico!
By Monica Seidel, Communications and Fundraising Coordinator, Watersheds Canada
Are you looking for a free place to meet people from across Canada? Want to know the latest information on different freshwater issues and learn how you can help? Be sure to check out Lake Links, happening Saturday, October 23rd from 10am-12:30pm EST!
By: Matthew Perry, Forest Communications Advocate, Canadian Institute of Forestry/Institut du Canada (CIF-IFC)
From September 19-25, 2021, Canadians from coast to coast are invited to recognize National Forest Week (NFW). This national campaign will bring organizations and Canadians from all different walks of life together to celebrate forests and our rich forest heritage, one of Canada’s most valuable and renewable resources.
By Fallon Hayes, Communications and Education Specialist, The Land Between National Charity
Scientists have long kept to themselves doing research with minimal public engagement; however this approach is quickly changing with the expansion of popular community science programs. These programs acknowledge and celebrate the fact that the general public often has intimate knowledge about the area where they live including its history, haunts, wildlife, and spaces.
By Benjamin Hughes, Public Relations Assistant & Jackie Hamilton, Sr. Research/Policy Advisor, Greenbelt Foundation
As our largest cities continue to expand in both footprint and population, it becomes more important than ever to protect sensitive lands and ecological features and provide easily accessible greenspace for urban residents. To offer solutions for this problem, the Greenbelt Foundation has joined forces with seven other organizations to form the Southern Ontario Nature Coalition or “SONC.” The current work of SONC is to develop a Near-Urban Nature Network of protected natural areas across the Greater Golden Horseshoe region.
By: Jacqueline Weber, Volunteer, EcoSpark
Spring is a wonderful time to reconnect with nature in your neighbourhood. Migrating birds are returning from their warmer wintering grounds, insects are emerging, and wildflowers are beginning to add colour to the forest floor. What better time to participate in a citizen science project that you can complete in your own backyard?
By Jaime Grimm, Key Biodiversity Areas Research Associate, Wildlife Conservation Society Canada
Last year, we wrote about our work to identify Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs) in Canada. These are places with exceptional biodiversity, and can be found anywhere from scenic wilderness areas, to roadside ditches containing rare insects or plants. KBAs highlight the broad biodiversity in Canada, celebrate the stewardship activities that have helped many of these areas to persist, and bring national and international recognition to places that are crucial for retaining and restoring biodiversity*. So far, we’ve managed to identify over 200 new KBAs across Canada, adding to a suite of known spectacular places like Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBAs) that now fall under the KBA umbrella.
By Toni Ellis, Elora Environment Centre
On a warm, sunny July 2020 morning in the Town of The Blue Mountains just beside the Georgian Trail, Tobias Effinger, owner of Arboreal Tree Care, was suiting up with his team at the base of a majestic 200-year-old Sugar Maple. Several walkers and cyclists stopped in their tracks, expressing alarm at the prospect that this magnificent tree was coming down. No, the crew explained: this tree is being preserved thanks to a new program called Tree Trust.
By Jill Thatcher, Communications Coordinator, Invasive Species Centre (ISC)
Do you want to help protect your community’s land and water from invasive species? Walk the walk on invasive species by submitting your project ideas by March 1st for a chance to be awarded a $1,000 microgrant!
The Invasive Species Centre (ISC) is celebrating its 10-Year Anniversary in 2021. To commemorate 10 years of working together to prevent invasive species in our land and water, the ISC is awarding 10 microgrants of $1,000 each to support invasive species education and community action in Ontario.
By: Kristin Palilionis, Invasive Species Centre (ISC)
A beautiful, bright red, showy invasive insect is making headlines in North America. It is known as the spotted lanternfly (SLF; Lycorma delicatula). It swarms by the hundreds to thousands, damages farm crops, and disrupts natural ecosystems. While it has not been found in Canada, we are concerned about the risk of introduction, as this notorious invasive species has been intercepted in two New York counties right across the border from Ontario’s Niagara region.
By (Blog & Images): Safe Wings
Every Spring, organizations like Safe Wings experience a significant increase in the number of reported bird-window collisions as large numbers of migrating birds return to their breeding grounds in Canada. Raising awareness of window collisions and the need to rescue survivors is just one of the ways Safe Wings Ottawa is helping to reduce bird deaths through research, prevention and rescue. These efforts are important because North America has lost one-third of all its birds in the last 50 years, and window collisions are one of the main reasons for this decline.
By: John Gould, Communications Assistant, Not Far From the Tree
Around the world, there is enough food produced to feed everybody; and yet a billion people go hungry each day. In a city where 1 in 7 households are food insecure, we believe the massive bounty produced by Toronto’s orchard shouldn’t fall to waste, when it can instead be shared with the community. We are Not Far From the Tree (NFFTT), Toronto’s fruit picking and sharing program. Our mission is to increase food access, promote a healthy environment and build community by empowering Torontonians to pick and share the 1.5 million pounds of fruit that grows in the city every year. The bounty from each fruit pick is split 3 ways: ⅓ is provided to the tree owner , ⅓ is split among the picking volunteers, and ⅓ is delivered via cargo bike to food banks, shelters, and community kitchens in the neighbourhood.
By: Wildlife Conservation Society Canada
Now, more than ever, people and nations across the world are recognizing the growing threat of biodiversity loss. The Canadian federal government has responded to this crisis by announcing its intention to protect 25% of lands and waters by 2025. At local and provincial levels, stewardship and conservation initiatives, as well as land use and development policies, can give nature a chance to thrive. However, in order to conserve biodiversity effectively with these initiatives and policies, we must identify those areas that are most vital to the persistence of biodiversity.
By Alex Nagy, Ontario Streams Volunteer
A riparian zone is the land bordering a stream, river, lake or other type of surface water. These
important ecosystems are typically dominated by diverse water-loving plants. Riparian zones act as a buffer separating human activity from sensitive aquatic ecosystems. The protection of the riparian zones in urban areas is of utmost importance in part because the land separating the streams from recreational and urban development areas is shrinking. This increased development causes stream bank erosion, increases the potential to introduce non-native species and increases sun exposure which warms the water thereby reducing oxygen levels. Planting native trees and shrubs is a restoration tool used to combat these issues. Stream plantings reduce erosion by stabilizing the soils on stream banks, increases resiliency preventing invasive species from establishing, provides shade which keeps streams cool as well as food and habitat.
By: Allison Hands & Bethany Kempster, BEAN Co-Chairs
When you hear the word “biodiversity” does your mind conjure images of lush rainforests or tropical coral reefs? What about your own backyard? Would you be surprised to learn that Ontario is home to 30,000 known species of plants and animals? Biodiversity supports the natural systems which we rely on - getting to know what lives in Ontario is the first step to understanding and protecting it. Getting outdoors and exploring biodiversity doesn’t have to be hard! Check out these easy to-do backyard activities
From Holiday Cheer, to Keeping our Streams Clear: Discarded Christmas Trees used in Greater Toronto Area Stream Restoration Projects
By: Ashley Smith, Streams Ontario Volunteer
Throughout the environmental industry, stream restoration professionals have been incorporating bioengineering practices into stream bank erosion control projects. As you may have guessed, these bioengineering techniques involve the use of natural materials such as debris from trees, logs, and shrubs, but did you know that your real Christmas trees can be used too? After spending a long winter inside your home, when their job of providing holiday cheer is over, they often end up on curb sides, waiting to be picked up and disposed of. Instead, why not donate them to a great cause, where they can be incorporated back into the natural environment as a tool for erosion control and habitat enhancement in your local watersheds?
Over the past two years EcoSpark partnered with the City of Toronto’s Community Stewardship Program (CSP) and Humber College’s Professor Lynn Short to see how well volunteers could tackle the invasive grass Phragmites australis (AKA common reed, or phragmites). Using Short’s manual removal technique- spading - volunteers removed phragmites with minimal disturbance to the surrounding environment. We compared cutting above the soil, spading once in a season, spading twice in a season, and doing nothing. We also documented the amount of phragmites removed by volunteers, and used surveys to gauge how volunteers felt about their contributions, and whether or not they learned anything. Check out the full report here.
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