Over the course of a decade that I have worked at Ontario Nature, there have been too many significant accomplishments to list. However, I am delighted to present some of the ways Ontario Nature has been stewarding, advocating for and protecting the wild spaces and wild species that you love in Ontario.
We launched the first annual Our Special Spaces events. Led by Ontario Nature’s Youth Council, and done in conjunction with community groups. These volunteering events restore natural spaces – including pollinator gardens and riparian zones.
Together with Wildlands League and Ecojustice, Ontario Nature launches a lawsuit against the provincial government in opposition to industry exemptions under the Endangered Species Act. Unfortunately, the exemptions were allowed, enabling forestry, mining and other sectors to damage critical habitat with little oversight and virtually no requirements for habitat restoration.
The Youth Summit for Biodiversity & Community Action focused on biodiversity, pollinators, the fragility of natural systems and mobilizing communities. Subsequently, a Youth Council and Bee City campaign established pollinator-friendly cities, schools and communities across Ontario.
With extensive help from nature lovers and community members, the Ontario Reptile and Amphibian Atlas surpassed 334,000 records of observations of salamanders, snakes, turtles, frogs, lizards and toads, contributing to an upcoming report.
Ontario Nature celebrated 85 years of conservation work, and established the Sydenham River Nature Reserve growing its network of 26 nature reserves now totaling 3,119 hectares (7,692 acres) across the province.
Ontario Nature’s Protected Places Declaration – asking the governments of Ontario and Canada to meet international commitments and 2010 Aichi Biodiversity Targets to protect at 17% of land and inland waters by 2020 – was signed by more than 135 organizations and 5,000 Ontarians.
With the support of our members and Nature Network member groups, we helped stop Schedule 10 of Bill 66, which threatened the drinking water, farmland and natural heritage of every municipality in Ontario.
Ontario Nature partnered with Environmental Defence and Ecojustice to sue the government over its unlawful use of a Minister’s Zoning Order (MZO) to force through development on the provincially significant Duffins Creek wetlands complex. Ultimately, the Government of Ontario revoked the MZO protecting the wetland from destruction.
I began at Ontario Nature photographing the Rally for Nature at Queen’s Park, an event that focused on our Charter for Biodiversity, which was signed by more than 6,000 people. The threats continue and this year alone Ontario Nature has stood up to protect natural spaces by growing our nature reserves, advocate against environmental deregulation, support sustainable communities, and much more.
I would be remiss if I neglected to mention the wonderful experiences I have had at our Annual Gatherings, Youth Summits, Nature Network outings and connecting with the extensive conservation community through my day-to-day work.