SPRINGO and City Nature Challenge
By Dana Buchbinder, Citizen Science Coordinator, Ecospark
Help put Toronto and the GTA on the map to win the title of the wildest city in Canada by taking part in the City Nature Challenge 2023 from April 28 - May 1!
The City Nature Challenge is an annual four-day global event where cities across the world compete to see which city can gather the greatest number of wildlife observations, find the most species and engage the most people at the event. EcoSpark is once again proud to be the regional organizer for the city of Toronto and the Greater Toronto Area.
By Philip Harker, Citizen Science Intern, EcoSpark
We tend to focus quite a lot on the earth’s flashier organisms: ferocious tigers, adorable axolotls, and towering trees. These organisms capture our imagination and help us to motivate others to protect our biosphere.
But these charismatic plants and animals don’t always tell the full story of the ecosystems that they come from. All across the world, ecosystems are highly dependent on the simpler organisms that we tend to take for granted. Today, we explore a diverse, weird, and fascinating (yet often overlooked) group of organisms: algae!
Explore Forest Biodiversity with Project Learning Tree Canada’s Forest Quest Game
By: Danika Strecko, Senior Education Manager, Project Learning Tree Canada
The forest is teeming with life – from the tiniest microorganisms and fungi to birds and bears. The interdependence between everything growing and living in forests is truly awe-inspiring.
And while one of the best ways to learn about nature is to get outside, we realize that’s not always possible. Perhaps you don’t have easy access to forests or the weather in your neck of the woods (pun intended) isn’t ideal this time of year. That’s why Project Learning Tree Canada developed a fun online learning experience, Forest Quest, for teens and young adults.
Reprinted with permission from Invasive Species Centre. By: Nicole Szabo, Communication & Event Management Intern, Invasive Species Centre
You’ve probably heard this from us before: if you see an invasive species, report it to the web-based mapping system EDDMapS. Reports allow for early detection and response, which can lead to the successful management of an invasive species. But can one person submitting a photo from their phone actually make a difference in preventing the spread of invasives?
10 Days of Winter Fun
by Watersheds Canada
Whether you are a seasoned winter explorer or new to Canadian winters, there are lots of fun ways to enjoy this season. All of these activities will help you and your family get outside, help local species, try a new activity, and appreciate nature. Let’s get started!
Ontario’s Biodiversity Gems: Exploring Key Biodiversity Areas Across the Province
By: Peter Soroye, KBA Assessment and Outreach Coordinator, Wildlife Conservation Society Canada
In the last few years, we’ve written to BEAN’s readers about what Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs) are and how we are identifying them across Canada. These KBAs are the sites across our country (and the rest of the world!) that are most important for the maintenance of biodiversity. Whether on land, sea, or underground, and whether important for rare species, threatened ecosystems, or incredible gatherings of wildlife, each KBA is highlighting some exceptional piece of nature that Canadians are responsible for. Building from the existing Important Bird and Biodiversity Area program, and working with a broad network of experts and knowledge-holders, Indigenous partners, NGOs, federal, provincial and municipal governments, and other stakeholders, we’ve identified over 1000 potential Key Biodiversity Areas across the country, with over 130 in Ontario.
Ushering in the Return of the King: The History and Future of Atlantic Salmon in Lake Ontario
By: Andrew Orlando, Habitat Technician, Ontario Streams
Known to some as the “King of Fish”, the Atlantic Salmon (Salmo salar) has one of the most storied histories across the Atlantic Ocean. Recently however, this history has not been entirely positive. Utilized as a food source for thousands of years, human induced pressures on the fish have only increased over the years to the extent that Atlantic Salmon are now one of the most heavily regulated fish in the world. Believed to have colonized Lake Ontario during the last post-glacial period when the lake was easily accessible by sea, historic populations adjusted to freshwater life. By 1896 however, they were declared to be extirpated (locally extinct) and thus began early recovery efforts.
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.
Look Out for the Little Guys: Creating Ecopassages to Help Local Critters Cross the Road
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.
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