Get out and ex­plore

Help care for Canada’s nat­u­ral places, wildlife

The Hamilton Spectator - - COMMENT - KAILEY SET­TER

Car­ing for na­ture not only has lo­cal ben­e­fits, it also sup­ports mi­gra­tory species, such as but­ter­flies, birds and wa­ter­fowl.

As peo­ple and fam­i­lies em­brace the sum­mer weather and look for things to do and en­joy, the Na­ture Con­ser­vancy of Canada has some sug­ges­tions. In the com­ing days and weeks, we will con­tinue to cel­e­brate Canada’s 150th birth­day and the nat­u­ral beauty of our coun­try. NCC is also mark­ing the 10th an­niver­sary of our con­ser­va­tion vol­un­teers pro­gram with events in all prov­inces.

Thou­sands of vol­un­teers of all ages will step up to lend a help­ing hand in car­ing for some of Canada’s most im­por­tant nat­u­ral places. The ef­forts of these vol­un­teers will be a game-changer for NCC’s con­ser­va­tion projects on the ground. Our prov­inces aren’t mak­ing more land so we need to keep a bit more of what we have and care for it.

Since 2007, NCC’s con­ser­va­tion vol­un­teers have been help­ing pro­tect Canada’s wildlife and nat­u­ral land­scapes by as­sist­ing with re­search and restora­tion ef­forts in nat­u­ral ar­eas across the coun­try. This in­cludes help­ing with plant and an­i­mal in­ven­to­ries, habi­tat restora­tion work and cleanup projects on NCC con­ser­va­tion sites.

Over the past 10 years, 16,083 vol­un­teers have helped us com­plete an as­tound­ing 1,371 com­mu­nity con­ser­va­tion projects. The level of sup­port from vol­un­teers is be­yond in­spir­ing.

We in­vite Cana­di­ans of all ages to join us in car­ing for Canada’s nat­u­ral places. Peo­ple can help mon­i­tor mi­gra­tory birds, con­duct but­ter­fly sur­veys, pro­tect nest­ing habi­tat for tur­tles, plant na­tive trees and flow­ers, build or en­hance trails and board­walks, con­duct shore­line cleanups, re­move in­va­sive species, build nest boxes and more. Ev­ery­one can play an im­por­tant role in car­ing for the en­vi­ron­ment by sign­ing up for one of our con­ser­va­tion vol­un­teers events, and by en­cour­ag­ing their friends, fam­ily and co­work­ers to join them in vol­un­teer­ing for na­ture.

Car­ing for na­ture not only has lo­cal ben­e­fits, it also sup­ports mi­gra­tory species, such as but­ter­flies, birds and wa­ter­fowl, that need healthy Cana­dian habi­tats to breed and for­age for food. Canada has 733 wildlife species at risk and, to date, NCC has helped pro­tect habi­tat for more than 180 of them.

This im­por­tant con­ser­va­tion and on­go­ing stew­ard­ship work on many of our sites is sup­ported through the Nat­u­ral Ar­eas Con­ser­va­tion Pro­gram of En­vi­ron­ment and Cli­mate Change Canada.

Some of our con­ser­va­tion vol­un­teers travel great dis­tances to par­tic­i­pate in events across the coun­try. Last sum­mer, Jean Ken­dall and her 10-year-old grand­daugh­ter, Tanaeya, trav­elled from north­ern On­tario to south­west Saskatchewan for the chance to see rolling hills of prairie grass­land at NCC’s Old Man on His Back Prairie and Her­itage Con­ser­va­tion Area, and sup­port grass­land con­ser­va­tion. They clocked about 2,500 kilo­me­tres one way.

No mat­ter the dis­tance trav­elled — whether a few kilo­me­tres or thou­sands — our con­ser­va­tion vol­un­teers are a force for na­ture, help­ing NCC achieve re­sults that we might not oth­er­wise ac­com­plish work­ing on our own.

We also in­vite peo­ple to be an hon­orary NCC re­porter for the day. Rov­ing re­porters are en­cour­aged to in­ter­view fel­low con­ser­va­tion vol­un­teers to get to the heart of the story. These events are unique ex­pe­ri­ences of ev­ery­day peo­ple mak­ing a real dif­fer­ence to con­ser­va­tion. Whether you’re a sea­soned re­porter or just start­ing out in writ­ing, we wel­come rov­ing re­porters in all prov­inces.

So join us! There are plenty of other op­por­tu­ni­ties to make a dif­fer­ence for na­ture in 2017. So far, NCC has more than 60 vol­un­teer events planned across the coun­try, with more to be added through­out the sum­mer. View our event cal­en­dar at con­ser­va­tion­vol­un­teers.ca to see how you can join our team and con­trib­ute to con­ser­va­tion. Your sup­port en­sures that habi­tat is pro­tected for Canada’s plants and an­i­mals all year long, and for many gen­er­a­tions to come.

Kailey Set­ter is the na­tional man­ager of con­ser­va­tion en­gage­ment with the Na­ture Con­ser­vancy of Canada.

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