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Ontario Nature Annual Report 2016/17
Magazines | Environment & Ecology 2017-07-04 16:52:25
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    REPORT to DONORS 2016-2017 Annual Report 2016 – 2017 ONTARIO NATURE 1

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    OUR COMMITMENT TO YOU Ontario Nature is a charitable organization representing more than 30,000 individuals and 155 member groups in communities across the province. We are committed to protecting wild species and wild spaces through conservation, education and public engagement. Thank you for sharing in our vision of an Ontario where nature inspires and sustains us for generations to come. Together we are heroes for nature. Goals PROTECT and restore nature CONNECT people with nature ADVOCATE on behalf of nature EDUCATE people about the importance of nature in all our lives Lyal Island Nature Reserve 2 ONTARIO NATURE Annual Report 2016 – 2017

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    Kevin Thomason Caroline Schultz ONTARIO NATURE a community of heroes From Ontario’s urban centres to the far reaches of the northern boreal, Ontario Nature members stood together as nature’s heroes throughout 2016. We were on the frontlines to protect nature (and we still are!), raising our collective voice to challenge government policies and regulations that are detrimental to fragile ecosystems and to at-risk species like our wild pollinators. We accomplished many wonderful things this year, with the crowning glory of acquiring our 25th nature reserve – almost 200 magnificent acres on the Sydenham River in the heart of southwestern Ontario’s Carolinian zone. And thanks to thousands of Ontarians who rallied to demand government action, we finally prevailed in banning the hunting of snapping turtles. Such great achievements have only been possible thanks to the commitment of our members, supporters and affiliated Nature Network groups. We hope you feel proud that your support has resulted in the real and positive impacts highlighted in this report. And as we forge ahead in 2017, your voice, along with thousands of others across the province, has real power to make change happen. With your help, we can continue to protect Ontario’s rich natural habitats, wildlife and healthy ecosystems, and create enriching and meaningful experiences for nature lovers of all ages. It is our honour to have the continued trust of our members and supporters in caring for and protecting the wild species and spaces you love. We hope you will share this report with your family and friends and help spread our conservation message to strengthen the voice for nature in our beautiful province. Thank you for standing with us as nature heroes! Kevin Thomason President Caroline Schultz Executive Director Ontario Nature Wood frog Annual Report 2016 – 2017 ONTARIO NATURE 3

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    A lasting legacy for nature Our For Nature Forever Circle is a special community of supporters who have made a significant commitment to leave a legacy for nature by including Ontario Nature in their estate plans. These legacy gifts have tremendous impact on our work and help to ensure that this province’s spectacular 4 natural heritage is protected for generations to come. We are deeply grateful that these donors have chosen to translate their passion for nature into a lasting charitable gift. Min MEMIMM11010111111111 ANITA’S STORY Anita and her husband Stan share a love for the Carolinian Life Zone, especially its forests, which are increasingly hard to find in southwestern Ontario. “We took one look at property near the Lake Erie shoreline and said, This is for us. The only things we don’t like are the ticks.” The Caveneys’ dream is to restore the natural features of the forest and wetlands on the undeveloped property they now own and steward. They created several wildlife ponds. Every year Stan plants more native trees and removes non-native plants. They keep a yearly log book of flora and fauna recorded, and happily report that indigenous plants like sassafras and tulip trees are thriving again. Anita feels strongly that the next generation should understand how important woodland and wetland conservation is for both wildlife and our own well-being. Anita says “The forest calms me down. In the forest, Stan and Anita Caveney on their property near Lake Erie the air is sweet, sounds of nature are good, and the silence is magical.” Her love of nature was a gift from her parents, who took the family to a national park every year, in her home country of South Africa. Anita and Stan want children to have the same opportunity to explore and love nature. Leaving a gift to Ontario Nature in their will is an expression of their desire to promote healthy and more biodiverse nature in the future. 4 ONTARIO NATURE Annual Report 2016 – 2017

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    PROTECT GROWING THE ALUS PROGRAM The Alternative Land Use Services program (ALUS) is flourishing! ALUS is a unique program that assists and recognizes farmers who are restoring their land and converting select parcels of farmland into habitat for wildlife. Ontario Nature is part of the ALUS Alliance, a diverse group of more than 40 individuals and organizations in Ontario that promotes ALUS throughout the province. _ -L lilt • ..1.111'. ,ftteZtaill Together we have already established the program in Norfolk, Elgin, Grey and Bruce counties, as well as the United Counties of Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry. Over the past year, Ontario Nature has helped grow the ALUS program into Peterborough and Lambton counties. Now farmers and ranchers in these communities can participate in this innovative program showing that when farmers and conservationists work together, both agriculture and nature benefit. We look forward to expanding the program into new communities during the coming year. ALUS Grey-Bruce demonstration project FOREVER PROTECTED – THE SYDENHAM RIVER NATURE RESERVE We are thrilled to have added the Sydenham River Nature Reserve as the 25th protected area in our province-wide network of nature reserves! Twenty- three species at risk call the Sydenham River home. This critical natural area is also home to 34 species of mussel, 11 of which are listed as at risk provincially or nationally, for which the Sydenham River has been deemed the mussel capital of Canada. This acquisition was made possible thanks to Ontario Nature members and member groups, the local community, foundations, corporate supporters, other conservation partners and caring individuals who stood with us to make sure this land was protected forever. The Sydenham River Nature Reserve is now open to visitors. Thank you for making this reserve a reality! Sydenham River Nature Reserve More than 400 volunteers planted 2,500 plants and trees across the province. Annual Report 2016 – 2017 ONTARIO NATURE 5

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    CONNECT YOUTH COUNCIL LEADING THE CHARGE The Ontario Nature Youth Council grew from 70 to a booming 94 members over the past year. It’s hard to ignore this vibrant group of young people and their enthusiasm to protect nature in Ontario. At a winter leadership retreat they prepared for their nine Our Special Spaces events and set their plans for the coming year to develop educational materials on wild pollinators such as a children’s information book and delivering community workshops. Youth Council members with Kim Wheatley from Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation New Ontario Reptile and Amphibian Atlas range maps An important part of the pollinator plan is to make sure council members are equipped with the tools they need to speak to their schools and municipalities and encourage them to endorse declaration programs including Bee Cities, Bee Schools and Bee Campuses. This year pollinator experts gave training to youth council members helping them carry out the next steps of the campaign. Thank you to everyone who is supporting this wonderful generation of environmental leaders! ENGAGING ONTARIANS IN CITIZEN SCIENCE It’s an exciting time for citizen science! We rolled out our new live-updating range maps to help individuals track their reptile and amphibian sightings across Ontario. We’ve also updated the Ontario Reptile and Amphibian Atlas smartphone app to make it easier for you to report your sightings. These new tools helped us reach over 362,000 records in the Atlas database! We also launched our Directory of Ontario Citizen Science – an online search tool linking people with citizen science projects in their local areas as well as helping groups coordinate projects and attract volunteers. And that’s not all! Working with partners and volunteers, Ontario Nature began a pilot project mapping vernal pools to test a new method of collecting critical habitat data to help us better understand trends in salamander populations. The seventh annual Ontario Nature Youth Summit for Biodiversity brought together 107 young leaders from 61 communities across the province. 6 ONTARIO NATURE Annual Report 2016 – 2017

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    ADVOCATE FIGHTING FOR SPECIES AT RISK In 2016, we filed an application with the Supreme Court of Canada to appeal the Ontario Court of Appeal ruling that upheld the government's 2013 regulation exempting many harmful industrial activities from complying with core provisions of the Endangered Species Act. The Supreme Court denied our appeal application, but we will not give up. Now it's time to pursue other options. Thank you for your support during this difficult fight. In a separate case, represented by Ecojustice, we are asking the court to declare the registrations of two harmful neonicotinoid pesticides invalid. Together with three other environmental organizations, we will be in court July 6 and 7 to fight preliminary motions from the federal government and pesticide company respondents to dismiss our case. We aim to ensure that our case to protect pollinators from Clothianidin and Thiamethoxam-based pesticides gets heard on the merits. We will then be back in court to argue for proper pesticide regulation. A BRIGHTER FUTURE FOR THE GREENWAY We were thrilled by our members and supporters who submitted 2,250 letters to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing for better protection for the water, nature and communities of the Greater Golden Horseshoe. Thanks to this strong showing of support, the Minister heard loud and clear that the land use plans that govern the Oak Ridges Moraine, Greenbelt, Niagara Escarpment along with the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe need some important improvements. These include mapping a regional natural heritage system, strengthening policies that protect endangered species and freezing urban boundary expansions. This led to a number of our suggested amendments being included in the coordinated review. We also saw the Province commit to growing the Greenbelt into 21 Urban River Valleys and seven coastal wetlands! Snapping turtle NO MORE HUNTING SNAPPING TURTLES! Ontario’s snapping turtles needed your help and you answered the call! With irrefutable evidence that snapping turtles cannot be sustainably hunted on our side, 7,000 members and supporters raised their voices to fight back against the government of Ontario’s proposed continuation of the hunt. And you were heard! The government has announced its decision to terminate the hunt. This victory is proof that our collective voice is a powerful tool to protect our beloved wild species and spaces. 3,332 new records were submitted to the Ontario Reptile and Amphibian Atlas in 2016. Annual Report 2016 – 2017 ONTARIO NATURE 7

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    EDUCATE Indigenous Perspectives on Conservation Offsetting: Five Case Studies from Ontario, Canada Scarborough Our Special Spaces event GUIDING AN INTEREST IN NATURE CONSERVATION Ontario Nature is dedicated to growing a conservation ethic and knowledge base in our province. This knowledge is essential to ensuring that we can improve the health and well-being of our natural ecosystems, so we’ve published a number of studies and reports over the past year to support the efforts of individuals, community leaders, municipalities and more. Publications including the Indigenous Perspectives on Conservation Offsetting: Five Case Studies from Ontario, Biodiversity Offsetting in Ontario: Issues, accomplishments and future directions and Protected Areas & Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) Certification in Ontario are important tools to help address critical conservation issues in the province. We have also published a number of nature guides on our website such as the Guide to Some of Ontario’s Spiders to help citizens participate in nature activities and learn about interesting species. LEARNING THROUGH ACTION Forging connections between Ontarians and nature is fundamental to our work. Creating learning opportunities to enrich both the lives of individuals and the wellness of nature in Ontario is a central component in our outreach work. This year we held 60 outreach and education events where participants explored nature trails, set up salamander boards, learned about reptiles and amphibians and much more in both northern and southern Ontario. Focused on reptile and amphibian conservation, citizen science and nature reserve stewardship, these events were designed to engage people of all ages in nature conservation. The Ontario Nature Youth Council also held nine engagement events in local communities throughout Ontario planting close to 2,000 pollinator-friendly plants! The ON Nature magazine article ‘The Cutting Edge” won Gold at the Canadian Farm Writers Awards in the General Periodical section and is nominated for a National Magazine Award. 8 ONTARIO NATURE Annual Report 2016 – 2017

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    Looking ahead While reflecting on the past year’s achievements, we also look forward to the challenges and opportunities ahead. These are just a few highlights of our plans for the coming year that we are hard at work on with our partners, members and supporters. Nature Day at Cawthra Mulock Nature Reserve Camille Tremblay Beaulieu Greenway Program Continue to push the government to add a ‘bluebelt’ of land that protects important water areas, along with a coalition of grassroots groups calling on the Province to Grow our Greenbelt. Nature Guardians Youth Program Build on the Youth Council’s campaign to protect pollinators by approaching schools and municipalities about Bee City, Bee School and Bee Campus Canada declaration programs. Designation and recognition inspires greater commitment to pollinator awareness and protection. Protected Areas Campaign Launch a major multi-partner campaign to increase the amount of protected land and water in Ontario to 17 percent of the total area. This is a key target in the Ontario Biodiversity Strategy which is derived from the Canada’s national commitment to achieve the global target considered to be vital to conserving biodiversity on earth. Boreal Program Expand our work with local communities to identify shared values and support conservation through the Forest Stewardship Council certification process. Strengthening those relationships will help to protect the land we love, while respecting local interests and Indigenous rights. Citizen Science Program Hit the road across northern Ontario with our new mobile education unit to expand young people’s understanding of reptiles and amphibians in the north, and fill gaps in the Ontario Reptile and Amphibian Atlas. Endangered Species Program Head to court to protect wild pollinators from neonic pesticides that are linked to mass bee die-offs and declining pollinator populations. Nature Reserve Program Conduct species and habitat inventories and develop management plans for the new Sydenham River Nature Reserve and implement ecological restoration projects at Stone Road Alvar, Cawthra Mulock, Sydenham River, Lost Bay and Kinghurst Forest nature reserves. Tree swallows Noah Cole Annual Report 2016 – 2017 ONTARIO NATURE 9

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    Long-time member, Larry Cornelis, was instrumental in creating the Sydenham River Nature Reserve. He is now leading the charge to steward the property along with other volunteers from Ontario Nature member groups, Lambton Wildlife Inc. and the Sydenham Field Naturalists. Celebrating our volunteers Let’s start with a big ‘thank you!’ to all of our volunteers! Their selfless dedication of time, energy and expertise is vital to our conservation initiatives. We are honoured to have such passionate volunteers standing by our side to care for nature. Their 5,311 hours of support in the office and in the field have greatly impacted all the good work we have been able to accomplish this year. We hope our volunteers have enjoyed their experiences working with Ontario Nature! If you would like to learn more, you can visit our volunteer webpage at ontarionature.org/volunteer for current opportunities. Tree planting at Willoughby Nature Reserve ■ 10 Kinghurst Forest Nature Reserve “Being a nature hero means caring, conserving and contributing.” Norma, Thunder Bay, member since 2003 ONTARIO NATURE Annual Report 2016 – 2017

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