We connected with ecologist Brenda Van Ryswyk of Conservation Halton to get her thoughts on what we need to do to bring more nature to the city, and encourage more people to help build the Polliantor Corridor. Check it out:
Q: We have heard of the concept "Half for Nature." Is this realistic in a city? In Hamilton? If so, how can this be achieved?
A: I think it is realistic when looking at available/plantable space and innovative planting techniques. I think we need to aim for it. We can utilize different ways to achieve this. Removing areas that do not need to be paved and converting them back to greenspace is one way. Innovative ways also should be looked at: vertical gardens (pockets of plants going up walls of buildings/high rises), patio gardening, rooftop gardens etc (I bought some durable fabric ‘pockets’ to fill with soil and hang on my fence). These are some creative ways we can incorporate more plants into our surroundings even if we do not have the bare earth on the ground.
Q: What can be done at the municipal level?
A: We need to look at using native species on public lands and city gardens. The city can have policies that they themselves will plant natives whenever possible. Park planning should plan to have natives in the landscape and design gardens to incorporate natives into the foundation plantings. I feel cities should be planting native woodies almost exclusively. There is no need to be planting non-native Norway Maple as a street tree/ornamental when a native tree can/should be used (in some situations a non-native may be needed but in my mind that is rare….most non-native woodies currently used in city plantings will have a native species that will do the same job!).
The city (or region even) could have policies in place that encourage corporate or private landowners to plant natives as well. Any time a planting is done, the request can be made that it be native, especially for woody plants-- or have at least 50% natives for herbaceous plantings. It may not be enforceable but just having a "request" can sometimes trigger using more natives. Once it is out there it will likely be acted on. Once people (or corporations) understand the WHY they may go beyond the minimum recommendation. Having a voluntary ‘certification’ or something can also encourage participation, for example, if corporations use 50% or more native plants they get a “helping wildlife/pollinators” title they can then brag about, put on their signs, put on their website/social media etc.