© Courtesy of Conservation Ontario
The world is facing the effects of a changing climate, and it’s more important than ever to find solutions that not only mitigate the impacts but also improve the health of our environment. Nature-based climate solutions provide a path forward by using the power of the natural world to create a more resilient future.
Conservation Authorities (CAs) play a crucial role in this process. The future-thinking defenders of environmental stewardship, CAs are the boots on the ground doing incredible work to restore and protect our natural ecosystems. They work in partnership with communities, businesses, urban and rural landowners, and municipalities to deliver a wide range of services that focus on watershed management and the restoration of ecosystems.
The benefits of the work that CAs do are numerous. From tree planting to water quality improvement and agricultural and environmental practices, CAs support various benefits, including drinking water, flood risk reduction, soil health, climate resilience, biodiversity, quality of life, and support for a thriving economy. Conservation Ontario (CO), the umbrella organization for Ontario’s CA’s, is working to promote these benefits through the Nature Smart Climate Solutions Fund (NSCSF).
NSCSF is a partnership between CO and Environment and Climate Change Canada that provides funding for place-based actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and conserve Canada’s wildlife and habitats. CO is currently working with 18 CAs to deliver 64 projects from 2021 to 2024, all of which will provide long-term benefits through the use of nature-based solutions.
Nature-based solutions are actions that conserve, sustainably manage, and restore ecosystems. These actions help to store and capture carbon, mitigate the impacts of climate change, improve water quality, and provide critical habitats for Canada’s wildlife. NSCSF supports projects that restore grasslands, wetlands, and riparian areas, improve land management practices, and acquire lands for conservation purposes.
The Raisin Region Conservation Authority is working on the Cooper Marsh Biodiversity Project, an NSCSF-supported initiative to protect and enhance the 663-acre wetland in South Glengarry, Ontario. This involves controlling invasive species, restoring grassland habitats, seeding native plant species, and creating additional ponds and channels. The project also engages the local community through educational workshops and citizen science initiatives, while monitoring and enhancing nesting structures and developing a long-term management plan for the Marsh.
In another project supported by the fund, the Credit Valley Conservation (CVC) has restored the Monora Park Pond. Monora Creek was dammed in 1965 for recreation, but the dam disrupted natural processes, prevented fish populations from connecting, and caused sediment accumulation. Thanks to CVC, the pond was removed in May 2022, allowing for vegetation to be planted and habitat to be restored in Monora Creek and surrounding wetlands.
The results of these projects and many others are already impressive. To date, 1,686 hectares have received enhanced land management practices, 95 hectares have been restored, 175 hectares have been secured for conservation, and four new properties have been submitted to the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks for screening under the Canadian Protected and Conserved Areas Database.
Nature-based climate solutions offer a path forward for mitigating the impacts of a changing climate while also improving the health of our environment. CAs play a crucial role in this process, and the NSCSF supports the delivery of place-based actions that promote a resilient future. With your support and collaboration, we can do more and achieve even greater results.
Contact your local Conservation Authority to learn how you can help build a stronger future. Visit conservationontario.ca to view a Story Map detailing Conservation Authority Projects.
Conservation Ontario represents Ontario’s 36 Conservation Authorities, which are local watershed management agencies, mandated to ensure the conservation, restoration and responsible management of Ontario’s water, land and natural habitats through programs that balance human, environmental and economic needs.