News & Events
Ontario Coalition Identifies Opportunities for Protecting Nature in Canada's Most Developed Areas
May 05, 2021
Toronto, May 05, 2021, the Southern Ontario Nature Coalition (SONC) has released A Solution to Climate Change and Biodiversity Loss, a short summary report of solutions for protecting near-urban nature across Canada. These solutions will help Canada meet federal biodiversity and climate targets while conserving important near-urban areas as part of larger federal efforts to protect 25 per cent of Canada’s lands and waters by 2025 and to set the stage for 30 per cent by 2030. Federal, provincial, and local initiatives will all benefit from new solutions that help conserve near-urban biodiversity and improve climate resilience close to densely populated regions.
Key strategies uncovered by the SONC report include building on Ontario’s Greenbelt—a world-leading example of near-urban natural systems protection, which sits at the centre of important ecological zones in southern Ontario. Protection of near-urban nature requires multi-jurisdictional approaches given fragmented ownership and diverse interests. To be successful, dedicated funding will be required for innovative projects, as well as to support capacity for Indigenous Peoples and Communities to engage meaningfully.
While protection of near-urban nature is challenging, the governments of Canada and Ontario have supported SONC in completing an unprecedented examination of options for protecting nature in the Greater Golden Horseshoe (GGH)—Canada’s most rapidly urbanizing region. SONC is establishing a Near-Urban Nature Network that uses an ecological (“cores and corridors”) systems approach and Indigenous perspectives. These efforts will be critical to the success of conserving biodiversity and creating climate resilience in southern Ontario, while also providing social and economic benefits for a region that is home to one in four Canadians.
“The COVID-19 pandemic reminded us of the importance of connecting with nature – for our health, well-being, and for our communities,” says the Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Environment and Climate Change. “Having access to green spaces is a significant part of our plan to create a healthier future and today’s summary report is a critical step in protecting more nature in Southern Ontario and across the country.”
Near-urban nature is comprised of the forests, river valleys, wetlands, farmland, and other ecological features that surround and intersect urban communities. In the GGH, near-urban nature contains some of the highest levels of biodiversity in Canada, with more species-at-risk than anywhere else in Ontario. It also provides important ecosystem services, including flood control and water filtration. In this region alone, near-urban nature provides $3.2 billion worth of such services. These areas face unique risks and could be lost within decades if coordinated action is not taken.
“Our government is proud to support and invest in the work of the Greenbelt Foundation and its partners to create a Near-Urban Nature Network,” says Jeff Yurek, Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks. “We share the goal of protecting and enhancing the Greenbelt, as outlined in our Made-in-Ontario Environment Plan, and practical solutions like these to protect and enhance the resilience of important natural areas in near-urban areas will mean more sustainable greenspaces for future generations to use and enjoy.”
SONC is a coalition of experienced provincial, regional, and community-based conservation organizations, land-based policy experts, and Indigenous engagement specialists. Lessons learned to date are outlined in the summary report, A Solution to Climate Change and Biodiversity Loss, and will be expanded upon in a full technical report to be published in June.
“In rapidly urbanizing regions, like the Greater Golden Horseshoe, near-urban nature is at imminent risk from pollution, habitat fragmentation, invasive species, and climate change,” says Edward McDonnell, CEO of the Greenbelt Foundation. “Building on Greenbelt Foundation knowledge and expertise, SONC is poised to support all levels of government in balancing growth needs with protection of near-urban natural areas in order to sustain a healthy population and environment. Solutions we develop in southern Ontario will support work being done all across the country.”
Immediate next steps SONC would like to take:
- Provide capacity support to Indigenous Communities and Peoples so that they may participate in near-urban nature protection.
- Map wildlife movement corridors.
- Provide input to Ontario’s Working Group on Protected Areas, including opportunities to use new designations called “Other Effective Area-Based Conservation Measures” and “Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas.”
- Build awareness of new federal protection measures.
- Partner with the Government of Canada to implement the Two Billion Trees Commitment in southern Ontario.
- Engage public and private landowners to take action in their own communities.
To read the summary report, A Solution to Climate Change and Biodiversity Loss, including key findings, click HERE.
For the full project backgrounder, click HERE.
Ontario Expanding the Protection and Preservation of Green Spaces
March 15, 2021
TORONTO — The Ontario government is investing $20 million over the next four years in the Greenlands Conservation Partnership to help secure land of ecological importance and promote healthy, natural spaces. The funding will enable the Nature Conservancy of Canada and the Ontario Land Trust Alliance to conserve, restore and manage natural areas such as wetlands, grasslands and forests. This initiative will help mitigate the effects of climate change, a key commitment in the province’s Made-in-Ontario Environment Plan and increase the number of conserved natural spaces for the public to enjoy.
“We are expanding the amount of conserved green space across the province, not only to help preserve the environment, but to promote physical activity such as hiking and improving our mental health,” said Jeff Yurek, Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks. “By taking this approach, our government will be leaving a magnificent legacy for the benefit of future generations. It has been wonderful to be working with outstanding conservation leaders like the Nature Conservancy of Canada and the Ontario Land Trust Alliance to achieve our shared goals.”
The Nature Conservancy of Canada and the Ontario Land Trust Alliance are doing important work in Ontario to protect the environment and safeguard our lands and water. With this new partnership, they will be able to use private donations and funds from other non-provincial sources to match the $20 million provincial investment to secure new privately-owned natural areas across the province and restore and manage these properties.
The following projects are among those that will directly benefit from the Greenlands’ funding:
- Rice Lake Plains Natural Area, to foster the return of native grasses and wildflowers, along with native species including grassland birds and insects,
- Alfred Bog in the Ottawa Valley, to protect wetlands in the largest high-quality bog in Southern Ontario,
- Saugeen Bruce Peninsula Natural Area, to conserve some of the richest biodiversity in the Great Lakes area,and
- Frontenac Arch, to protect one of the most important forest corridors in North America.
“With the Greenlands Conservation Partnership, the Nature Conservancy of Canada is pleased to work with the Government of Ontario as well as our partners and donors to ensure that Ontario’s special places are protected and conserved for future generations,” said Mike Hendren, Regional Vice President Ontario, Nature Conservancy of Canada. “Through this partnership, we are helping to ensure the province’s natural areas remain a home for wildlife, a haven for recreation and a vital resource that cleans the air we breathe and the water we drink.”
“The Ontario Land Trust Alliance is very grateful for the leadership shown by the Government of Ontario in supporting community land conservation,” said Alison Howson, Executive Director, Ontario Land Trust Alliance. “This support will provide real measurable benefits to highly sensitive, highly biodiverse, threatened habitats and ecosystems such as those found in Southern Ontario. The support shown by the province will help to provide big wins for nature, and community connection to nature across Ontario.”
See the full news release here.
Global Heroes Magazine Feature
December 15, 2020
Check out OLTA’s feature in the December issue of Global Heroes, North America’s premiere positive news magazine. The article highlights the amazing work of our community of land trust heroes across Ontario to protect the land we all love and depend on. You can read the full article online here.
Greenlands Conservation Partnership – Announcement
November 6, 2020
Ontario Land Trust Alliance (OLTA) welcomes yesterday’s announcement that the Government of Ontario will make a significant investment to “preserve more areas of significant ecological importance, protect natural areas and promote the importance of healthy, natural spaces.”
The investment $20M over 4 years to support land conservation and stewardship, will be matched by OLTA and our partner organisations, Nature Conservancy of Canada and community land trusts at a ratio of at least 1:1.5. OLTA is pleased to see the importance of community land conservation supported in the budget. This initiative will establish areas of newly protected land and freshwater, especially in southern Canada where nature and wildlife faces the greatest pressures and where the majority of land is privately owned.
“The Ontario Land Trust Alliance is very grateful for the leadership shown by the Government of Ontario in supporting community land conservation. This support will provide real measurable benefits to ecosystem protection. Support for community land conservation provides significant positive impacts to highly sensitive, highly biodiverse, threatened habitats and ecosystems such as those found in Southern Ontario. The support shown by the Ontario government will help to provide big wins for nature and community connection to nature across Ontario.” – Alison Howson, Executive Director, Ontario Land Trust Alliance.
Ontario Land Trust Alliance (OLTA) empowers and supports highly effective, well-governed land trusts that engage their communities. OLTA builds capacity through training and educational programs; connecting land trusts to each other, resources and their communities; leading and supporting on-the-ground conservation work; sharing knowledge and best practices, reducing financial barriers to land conservation and promoting organizational excellence. Our impact is Ontario-wide through 50 connected charities and communities.
OLTA’s local land trust members currently collectively own and steward over 108, 000 acres across Ontario, with the support of thousands of volunteers annually.
More information will be coming in early 2021 as this new partnership develops.
July 27, 2020
Our monthly newsletter is filled with information to keep you engaged in protecting Ontario’s land, water, and wildlife. We cover topics on recent conservation news, OLTA news, OLTA member land trust news, upcoming events & opportunities. Find our most recent July newsletter here.
Carbon Offset Webinar (Part Two)
April 28, 2020
Please join us this Friday, May 1st at 10 AM for part 2 of our Carbon Offsets webinar series. Bob Barnett, Executive Director at the Escarpment Biosphere Conservancy (EBC) will present his take on the carbon market as it applies to land trusts. He will go into more detail about EBC’s offset project. Bob along with David Beaudoin from CarbonZero will answer any questions you might have. To register, please contact Morgan Roblin (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Engagement With The Passport To Nature Model
Passport Projects Generate Funds and Recruit Supporters
Written by Tanya Clark
November 1, 2019
How can we run events that are a good use of our resources, engage our supporters and create funding for our conservation efforts? One option is Passport to Nature model, which has been implemented by 10 organizations from coast to coast. For example see The Couchiching Conservancy’s most recent example – http://www.couchichingconserv.ca/passport-to-nature-3/
Passports to Nature programs involve a series of local and regional events featuring elements of nature offered to the public over several months. These programs are promoted through the production of program booklets (passports) that are used to generate advertising revenue, fulfilling two goals, making connections with people and generating significant resources. Using Engagement Organizing practices, the Passport to Nature Canada community applies this tool strategically engage your supporters, both at the event and afterwards.
The Gosling Foundation supports a collaboration of organizations utilizing this model. Contact the Foundation’s executive director for further information on how to use the passport model in your community. Contact Stan Kozak, email@example.com.
Updates from the field: SAR bat monitoring
Why spend your summer chasing waterfalls when you could be chasing bats?
Written by Jeffrey Driscoll
August 19, 2019
Did you know that in Ontario we have 8 species of bats, four of which are endangered? Despite the bad reputation bats have gained over the years they provide an important service to humans as a natural insect repellent. Unfortunately, our bats are under threat by a fungal disease known as white nose syndrome (WNS). This disease has wiped out millions of bats across North America. Additional threats to this group include habitat loss, wind turbines, and colony eradication via chemical or physical destruction of maternity colonies.
These cute flying mammals are abundant but cryptic. We still have a very limited understanding of their biology and the threats they face. Ontario’s bats are nocturnal, small, winged mammals that do not call in a frequency audible to the human ear. This makes typical survey techniques nearly impossible. Visual sampling or capture techniques are difficult. Acoustic identification using our ears – as you would during a bird survey – is impossible. So how do conservation stewards get around this conundrum? We use a method called bio-acoustic monitoring! Like birds and frogs, the calls produced by bats can provide useful species identification information. It is fitting that acoustic monitoring is a common technique to collect data on bats, since sound plays an important role in their daily lives! Through evolution, bats have adapted to navigate through a nocturnal world. They do this by producing and hearing high frequency sounds, known as echolocation. We use a special recording device to capture calls and analyze the recordings using software that allows us to see a sonogram. Each bat species has a unique call signature, which distinguishes them from other species. This allows us to determine species diversity on a property without actually seeing them!
OLTA staff can provide training on methods used to monitor bats and loan the equipment needed through our Fee for Service Program,. At the end of the field season, OLTA staff will analyze the bat call data to determine the species present on each property monitored. This season staff and volunteers from Couchiching Conservancy, Georgian Bay Land Trust (GBLT), and Thousand Islands Watershed Land Trust (TIWLT) have taken advantage of this program. Both Couchiching Conservancy and TIWLT are performing active monitoring throughout the summer. They walk through their properties along a predetermined route and record bat calls with a handheld device. GBLT and TIWLT are also using a stationary recording device to record calls from sunrise to sunset, every night throughout the summer. This technique is very hands-off; once installed, you just need to swap the batteries every 3-4 weeks!
Acoustic monitoring can also be an excellent outreach opportunity! TIWLT has been hosting an amazing “Wednesday Wanderers Walk Series”. They take local community members out for a night of acoustic monitoring, providing information on how important bats are to rural communities. The Couchiching Conservancy is using this as an opportunity to add another citizen science monitoring program to their repertoire. If you are interested in starting your own bat monitoring program and would like OLTA’s help, please contact Morgan Roblin (firstname.lastname@example.org) for more information. Happy Monitoring! 🦇🔍
"Ottawa throws lifeline to 50 Million Tree Program cut by Ontario government" - CBC
June 5, 2019
The federal government throws a lifeline to the axed 50 Million Tree Program. The program will invest $15 million over four years to help offset losses from the 50 Million Tree Program cancelled by the Ontario government. Environment Minister Catherine McKenna says this new budget will extend the program for another four years. Full Story.
OLTA celebrates the Natural Heritage Conservation Program
April 24, 2019
OLTA celebrates the federal government’s commitment to protecting land conservation across Canada. Today the Government of Canada has confirmed its commitment to land conservation as it announced $100M of funding over 4 years to support the establishment of new protected and conserved areas by land trusts in southern Canada.
The new program will establish at least 200,000 hectares of newly protected land and freshwater, especially in southern Canada where nature and wildlife faces the greatest pressures and where the majority of land is privately owned. Full Story.
Location Announcement for this years Annual Gathering!
April 4, 2019
Save the date! This year’s Annual Gathering will be October 6-8 2019 at the Isaiah Tubbs Resort in Prince Edward County. Gatherings in the past were at this resort and we are delighted to be going back there. Watch for more details in the months to come.
"From Private to Protected: Thunder Bay Field Naturalists Club Acquires Michipicoten Properties" - TBFN
March 4, 2019
Thunder Bay Field Naturalists (TBFN) purchased two properties on Michipicoten Island (Bonner Head and North East Property) boasting 538 acres (217 hectares) of undisturbed wilderness. Funding was provided from private donors and the Canada Nature Fund. Michipicoten First Nation volunteers will be helping TBFN volunteers to monitor and care for the Michipicoten Nature Reserve starting by assessing the current plants and wildlife. (Photo: TBFN). Full Story.
"Protecting the Farm as a Cultural Heritage Landscape: The Story of Innisfree Farm" - University of Waterloo
February 27, 2019
Barbara Heidenreich shares her own experience in preserving an Ontario farm with important associative and physical values, and deep personal meaning. Barbara worked with Ontario Heritage Trust to preserve Innisfree Farm, a farm built in 1913-14 by her great-grandfather Byron Edmund Walker in the Town of Innisfil. With the Oak Ridges Moraine Land Trust, a Conservation Easement Agreement was designed that recognized and protected in perpetuity the elements of the farm that make it a “cultural heritage landscape.” Full Story.
Two new S&P workshops are being offered on February 19th & 26th, 2019!
February 7, 2019
On February 19th & 26th we learned from you how you use and implement the updated Canadian Land Trust Standards and Practices.
These two Standards and Practices workshops cover an overview of S&P changes and a focus on specific Standards identified as a priority during our recent survey. These include: Ensuring Sound Transactions; Conservation Easement Defense and Endowments. Presenters are experts from ECCC, NCC and the land trust community. Attendees will be encouraged to share their experiences and resources.
February 19th at the Orillia Library
- Importance of S&Ps for land trusts specifically for Ecogifts
- Standard 11 Conservation Agreement Stewardship and Considerations for CEA defense
- Ensuring Sound Transactions for Fee simple transactions
February 26th at the Arboretum in Guelph
- Standard 12 Land Stewardship
- Susan Walmer – Standard 11 & 12 Funding Land Stewardship and Endowments
- Standard 9 Ensuring Sound Transactions for Fee simple transactions
DIY species at risk workshop to be held at rare Charitable Research Reserve on February 14th, 2019!
February 4, 2019
Land conservation plays an essential role in the protection and recovery of species at risk in Ontario. On February 14, we had our Species at Risk Workshop at rare Charitable Research Reserve in Cambridge. Monitoring, management and outreach programs are an important way to ensure conservation lands continue to protect species at risk and engage the community in species at risk recovery. This workshop included a series of presentations on native bumblebee and Monarch monitoring and outreach, planning prescribed burns, and other programs you can implement on your conservation lands. Speaker organizations included conservation groups and fellow land trusts. Click here to view a draft ragenda.
Articles from 2018
October 20, 2018
The OLTA Land Trust Gathering happened on October 18 & 19 in Alliston, ON. The OLTA Land Trust Gathering is the annual training, skills development and networking conference bringing together land trust, conservation professionals and those in the broader environmental industry and the charitable sector from across Ontario. Conference participants benefited from workshops and plenary sessions. There was also plenty of time for informal networking and celebrating accomplishments with your colleagues! Find out more.
September 5, 2018
The Bobolink birds which are considered Threatened in Ontario are preparing for their long migration to Pampas grasslands in South America. They started this journey on the Couchiching Conservancy properties! The land trust produced a booklet to assist farmers in managing their hay and pastures for grassland birds which you can read here.
August 10, 2018
Haliburton Highland Land Trust raised funds through their first annual Rock Our World event with a jazz band, silent and live auction and a buffet table of delectable appetizers. Thanks to their sponsors for an incredible event to raise funds for more land conservation in the region.
In an outstanding achievement, the Bruce Trail Conservancy and Parks Canada have acquired the Driftwood Cove Property contributing to the overall size of the Bruce Peninsula National Park bringing it to 90% completion. The 3,272-acre parcel that will represent 9% of the National Park’s land and 22% of its shoreline. Read More online…
February 27, 2018
The Ontario Land Trust Alliance (OLTA) was impressed with the 2018 budget announcement, which affirms Canada’s commitment to the international goal of protecting 17 per cent of its land and fresh water by 2020.