Biodiversity in your Community

Creating and safeguarding natural spaces

Successful projects to restore community biodiversity are a reflection of the ideas, inspirations and hard work of many committed volunteers. Numerous opportunities exist for those wanting to lend a helping hand!

  • Start a community-based monitoring program in your community: Community based monitoring is a process where concerned citizens, government agencies, industry, academia, community groups and local institutions collaborate to monitor, track, and respond to issues of common community concern. Nature Watch is a volunteer monitoring program whose goal is to track environmental changes through projects such as FrogWatch, IceWatch, PlantWatch and WormWatch. These monitoring programs provide allow the public to contribute to the collection of valuable biological data.
  • Transform an empty lot: Empty lots can be cleaned up and turned into wonderful community gardens providing food, play areas for children and spaces for artistic expression. The biggest challenge often is gaining access to the land - it is best if you can obtain a multi-year lease or convince the city to purchase the land.
  • Create natural spaces around buildings: Organize community groups to establish native plants to replace areas of mowed lawn around educational facilities, workplaces, faith communities' spaces and neighbourhood centres.
  • Join a conservation group: Conservation groups organize activities such as restoring marshes, ponds, parks, rivers or other ecosystems in your community. For example, Evergreen, a national non-profit environmental organization has a mandate to bring nature to cities through schoolyard, publicly accessible land and backyard naturalization projects. Such groups always welcome new volunteers! In cities, local efforts may involve creating wildlife corridors to facilitate the movement of animals by connecting ecologically rich areas within urban areas.
    • The EcoAction Community Funding Program is an Environment Canada initiative that provides financial support to community groups for projects having measurable, positive impacts on the environment. Non-profit groups and organizations are eligible to apply to the program. EcoAction encourages efforts which protect, rehabilitate or enhance the natural environment while also building the capacity of communities to sustain these activities into the future. Projects require matching funds or in-kind support from other sponsors.
    • The Toronto Zoo adopt-a-pond program encourages community and school groups, families and individuals to 'adopt' a local wetland in order to protect its aquatic biodiversity.

  • Fish sustainably: In order to fish in Canada you must acquire the appropriate license for your purposes. When fishing, do so in a sustainable manner with gear that leaves the habitat intact, and take only the desired species. Fish at levels that make allowance for natural biological and climatic cycles, and practice catch and release with fish you're not going to eat.
  • Assist in completing a wildlife survey or bird count: Volunteer to help a local naturalist group gather valuable information about the ecosystem health in your community. Bird counts, for example, are an annual North-America wide event, usually taking place in mid-December and involving teams of volunteers who spend the day tallying species and numbers of birds within a geographical area, and others who contribute by noting the birds that come to their backyard feeders on the day of the count.
  • Make a charitable donation: If you don't have time to volunteer or you want to contribute even more towards biodiversity conservation, make a donation to support a group which works in an area of particular interest to you. There are non-profit organizations involved with nearly every issue biodiversity-related imaginable, and ranging from local to international in scope.