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.
By: Colin Cassin, Policy Analyst, Invasive Species Centre (ISC)
Hemlock fans, I have some bad news for you. There is a new forest pest in Ontario that requires your attention. Now, if the name hemlock woolly adelgid sounds familiar to you, it may be because in the last decade two populations of HWA were detected and eradicated in Ontario. Immediate action was taken in both instances and our woodlots have enjoyed several HWA-free years as a result.
By: City of Toronto
On October 3rd, Toronto City Council unanimously passed the City's first Biodiversity Strategy. The Strategy aims to support healthier, more robust biodiversity and increased awareness of nature in Toronto. The Strategy recognizes biodiversity as fundamental to supporting the livability and resilience of the city.
By Watersheds Canada
Every person has the right to access clean and healthy lakes and rivers in Canada. At Watersheds Canada, we work to keep these precious places naturally clean and healthy for people and wildlife to continue using for years to come. We work with others to meet the needs of local communities, whether you are a concerned citizen, a landowner, a lake association looking for help, or a coalition of groups interested in activating your local community. While we are a small grassroots organization, we offer Canadians many great open-source programs:
By: Lisa Horn, Fatal Light Awareness Program (FLAP)
Birds have been hard at work this summer. They have built intricate homes to house their precious eggs, vigorously defended their territories from pesky intruders, and kept up with the bottomless appetites of their cheeping, demanding babies.
And now these birds, from the bold and beautiful ruby-throated hummingbird to the secretive and subdued Swainson’s thrush, must embark on their awe-inspiring and perilous migrations. As they touch down to rest and refuel in urban parks and woodlots, and even your backyard, they may encounter one of the biggest bird killers: glass.
By: Kathryn Peiman, Ph.D., OFAH Atlantic Salmon Restoration Program Coordinator. Images Provided by OFAH
As I walk down the school hallway carrying Atlantic Salmon eggs, two girls are leading me to their classroom. One is walking fast. The other girl asks her to slow down. She responds with, “I can’t, I’m too excited - the eggs are here!”
For five months every year, hundreds of students raise and release baby Atlantic Salmon into local streams. Atlantic Salmon were extirpated from Lake Ontario by 1896, and since 2006, the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters and the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry have partnered to Bring Back the Salmon, a program sponsored by Ontario Power Generation with classroom hatcheries currently funded by the Ontario Trillium Foundation.
By Stacy Lee Kerr, Ontario BioBlitz
The longer days and slowly (but surely) warming temperatures in early spring are energizing. Walks in the woods at any time of the year in Southern Ontario are a lovely way to spend time in nature and de-stress. But taking a stroll beneath bare branches along trails that wind amongst soggy leaf litter can make you feel a little impatient for life to emerge. But then something special happens.
By (Blog & Photos): Stuart Long
Over the last five years, I have been involved in the Ontario BioBlitz as a volunteer. My time with the Blitz has seen me work at everything from hauling boxes to registering attendees and selling swag. I am happy to see so many families experience the natural world when attending the event. But what can those families, so eager to learn about biodiversity and nature, do at home?
When I was a kid, I loved to learn about the natural world. Whether it was dinosaurs, plants, animals, minerals, or the stars, I was eager to take it all in. Lucky for me I had a parent who knew the value of interactivity in learning and play.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.