News & Events
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.