Great news for Hamilton residents! The Hamilton Naturalists Club and Environment Hamilton, along with many other local conservation groups and city of Hamilton staff have been working throughout 2019 to begin the process for a made-in-Hamilton Biodiversity Action Plan. On February 19, a motion was passed at General Issues Committee to investigate the feasibility of developing such a plan. We are thrilled!
Jen Baker (HNC Project Manager) delegated to the Committee on behalf of the team. Key highlighted messages in our presentation are the following:
Biological diversity is another name for nature. It is the diversity of all species--bacteria to birds, plants to people and their habitats.
Hamilton lies within a Canadian biodiversity hotspot and we should be proud of this. Our range of habitats, including the Niagara Escarpment, Lake Ontario, coastal wetlands like Cootes Paradise, mature forests, that support many species and provide millions in ecosystem services each year.
Nature has its own intrinsic value but humans also rely on biodiversity to survive. Nature provides many benefits to us such as managing flooding by storing water, significantly reducing air pollution by sequestering carbon, filtering out harmful air particulates, and cooling which reduces the harmful effects of heatwaves. It also provides beautiful green spaces that provide a refuge and that support the health and well-being of the community.
Basically, biodiversity is the foundation for life and the healthier our biodiversity is, the better our quality of life. Any impacts to nature reduce the ecosystem benefits to our community.
In 2019, The Monarch Awards “for gardens that nature loves, by gardeners who love nature,” received 33 Monarch Award applications. Field judges named five gardeners as recipients of these awards, previously a competition, now a standard of excellence. As well, seven Caterpillar Awards were given out to beginner gardeners and small gardens. Over the next few months, we will be sharing stories from award winners of both categories. Here’s our first story.
The tree’s the thing.
“Every change has a catalyst, something happens to make you rethink your point of view,” says Waterdown resident, Ann Martin about the genesis of her nature-supporting garden. “The loss of our Maple tree in the 2013 ice storm was mine.”
Previously, Ann’s backyard was all shade but with the damaged tree downed, and the garden leveled to a clean slate, “suddenly, we had full sun.” With her husband, John, she decided that everything they would plant from then on had to feed somebody: “birds, bees, us.”
Ann knew she wanted fruits; she put in peach, apples, asparagus, blueberries, raspberries, red and black currant bushes, with native species flower tucked in every inch of the space. She planted Echinacea and Joe-pye around the perimeter of the yard: “now we have gorgeous bees and butterflies, there’s so much life in my backyard.”
Ann also put in two rain gardens and ripped up the front yard in preparation for this year’s garden.
We asked Ann what has been the response from the neighbours thus far. “We have a lot of conversations, there’s been mostly positive feedback,” she responds, pointing out that people are looking for ways and things to do to help, because of climate change being front and centre. For Ann, knowing what and how to make change is part of a grassroots movement that covers anything from refilled jars to gardening for nature: “you can change where you are.”
Asked about specific challenges she faced in starting a nature-benefiting garden, Ann describes the actual sourcing of native plants as difficult.
“I had to travel; lots of road trips, but lots of fun,” this energetic Personal Support Worker says. Ann hit every native plant sale, the first being the RBG sale; “I thought, okay, this I like.”
As to support and resources that helped her on the way, Ann refers to the halton environmental talks on watersheds and native plants as being very motivating. She was also able to access a grant from the Hamilton Halton Watershed Stewardship Program towards establishing rain gardens. Micheal Albanese, with Avesi Storm Water, came out to help with the planning for the two water gardens in the front. Ann learned about other native plant nurseries in the area after ttending the first native plant sale at RBG.
“Once you get your toe in the door, you find out more,” she says.
About the Monarch Awards themselves, “I think a huge part of this is that it’s going to be changing the Trillium Awards, which is already happening, like how they are now allowing clover on lawns, that’s really positive,” Ann concludes.
The Pollinator Paradise Project, (an initiative of the Hamilton Naturalists' Club and Environment Hamilton) has been going for 5 years. Are you curious about what this looks like at the end of 2019? Well here's a list of what we've been up to all this time:
We’ve updated our Pollinator Paradise Project Map that showcases pollinator habitats across the city. Over the summer, an incredible team of student volunteers assisted our staff in creating a better, more beautiful, more interactive story map.
Since 2014, Environment Hamilton and the Hamilton Naturalists' Club have been building a Pollinator Paradise of certified gardens across the city to provide food and shelter for native pollinators. By doing this with our community, we are strengthening and enhancing Hamilton's unique biodiversity.
So what exactly qualifies a pollinator garden?
The major requirement is native wildflowers - the primary source of food for our native pollinators!It is also great to provide habitats like wood, stems, leaves, and undisturbed soil. Another resource to provide is clean water.
And these pollinator gardens come in many different shapes and sizes! From small residential gardens to large park spaces over 450 square metres, every pollinator garden helps.
For Immediate Release: September 18, 2019
Hamilton--Everyone wants to help save the pollinators, and one of the best ways to do so is by planting a native species garden. To this end, the Hamilton Pollinator Paradise Project has launched the Plant Paradise Toolkit, a guide designed to help Hamiltonians create pollinator-friendly habitat.
“Whether you are planting in a very small space such as a balcony, or on a large property,
starting a garden for wild bees, butterflies, and other pollinators can seem overwhelming,” says Jen Baker, Project Manager for the Pollinator Paradise Project. “This electronic toolkit is useful for all habitat sizes and every level of expertise--from beginner to green thumb.”
Plant Paradise Toolkit is divided into two parts. The first part starts with an introduction as to why pollinators need our help (and why we need theirs: 1 in every 3 bites of food we eat depends on a pollinator!). It includes a section that explains the urgency for supporting broader biodiversity in general. The second part of the toolkit is laid out in 6 neat sections. Illustrated with beautiful images, it covers choosing a site, designing the garden, choosing the plants for the garden, preparing, planting and maintaining the garden.
“With this critical conservation issue, we can all be part of the solution; ” Baker concludes, “because every little bit helps.”
Residents will be able to get a condensed version of the toolkit by attending the Cootes to Escarpment EcoPark System BioBlitz weekend, September 21-22 and/or the Native Plant Sale, which will run concurrently with the BioBlitz event on September 21, and takes place at the Royal Botanical Gardens.https://www.rbg.ca/bioblitz
The Hamilton Pollinator Paradise Project is an initiative of Environment Hamilton and the Hamilton Naturalists’ Club since 2014, with the goal of planting a Pollinator Paradise across the City of Hamilton.
For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact: Jen Baker,
Pollinator Paradise Project, firstname.lastname@example.org or call 905-549-0900
In reviewing the Monarch Awards' Applications for this year, 2019, we were struck by the love, care and respect for nature that the applicants showed as concerns their gardens.
In all 33 applications, there was an authentic desire to support biodiversity in the city, with thoughtful comments like, "giving the birds a place to drink," "a place for pollinators to shelter," etc. Gardeners referred to wildlife as "friends," "visitors," and "other inhabitants."
The gardens themselves were spoken about as being "peaceful," "places of enjoyment," "an oasis," "a hidden haven."
As we await the final decision from the judges, take a moment to read some of the quotes that stood out from amongst the applicants.
Published in thespec.com, June 11 2019
So you want to help save the bees? That's great, but first of all, you'll need to get to know your bees.
From a conservation perspective, it's the wild bees as opposed to managed bees that we need to be focusing on. As plant pollinators, they are the ones that do most of the heavy lifting, yet they get the least attention.
Dr. Sheila Colla, a conservation biologist at York University, states many people believe honeybees are wild bees. They are not. Honeybees are for honey production and pollination of some crops, they are not even native to North America. Sheila decries the lack of knowledge about native bees of which Ontario has over 350 species, most of them ground nesters, saying, "even the most avid naturalist groups don't know about the diversity of our wild bees."
Why the confusion about the kinds of bees in need of our help?
Many people became more concerned when beekeepers called for support to fight neonicotinoids (insecticides), "but they made it seem like this was the biggest threat, when in fact it is one of many," Sheila says.
According to Sheila, pathogens from managed bees and diseases spillover are the biggest threat to wild bumblebees, the wild bees which are the best studied. "Disease tends to increase because we manage bees in densities higher than they would be found in nature."
As an example, Sheila points to the bat population that contracted 'white nose syndrome.' "Over 90 per cent were impacted because when an animal is introduced to a disease they were never exposed to before, it can be catastrophic."
Sheila argues that planting good quality habitat that provides both spring and fall flowers is one of the most significant things we can do.
We need to beware of misconceptions — even the bee condo, while useful for education purposes is not so innocent a conservation tool. Research by Scott MacIvor's lab shows that bee condos are more parasitized, and fungus issues occur frequently.
For Sheila, "it comes down to a western way of thinking that we can manage the environment and make it work the way we want to. This highlights to me it's one knowledge system we are still applying."
For Immediate Release
June 4, 2019
Hamilton Pollinator Paradise Project & Donut Monster: Pollinator Awareness Campaign
Celebrating & Raising Awareness About Pollinators Throughout June
Pollinators are a sweet deal!
That's why the Pollinator Paradise Project is partnering with Donut Monster throughout June to raise awareness about the vital work these little critters do. By pollinating wild plants and food crops, they help provide one out of every three bites of the food we eat.
To this end, Donut Monster’s “Pollinator Donut”--a Rosemary Maple Brûlé--delivers a tasty bite with a very serious message.
“Pollinator populations are rapidly declining due to factors such as habitat loss, pesticide use, and climate change,” says Project Manager, Jen Baker. “In fact, the recent UN global biodiversity assessment estimated that about 1 in 10 insect species are threatened with extinction.” The loss of pollinators (and biodiversity in general) means serious negative impacts on the health of our ecosystems.
“We’re excited about creating the Maple Rosemary Brûlée donut to bring awareness to the Hamilton Pollinator Paradise Project,” say owners Heidi and Reuben Vanderkwaak. “It is a very tangible way for the community to get involved. The donut has an amazing flavour and we really hope that highlighting this project will cause our customers to stop and consider how they can find simple ways to improve biodiversity in Hamilton.”
Many ways to Help. Many ways to Celebrate.
The Hamilton Pollinator Paradise Project is planting a paradise for pollinators across Hamilton by creating habitat with native trees, shrubs, and wildflowers. Because the need to raise awareness about the plight of pollinators is so urgent, the project is taking National Pollinator Week (June 17-June 23) and making a Pollinator Month of it!
HERE'S WHAT YOU CAN DO:
Supporting pollinators is a win-win-win for everyone--pollinators, plants, and people!
Learn more about the project: https://www.hamiltonpollinatorparadise.org/
For more information or to arrange an interview, contact: Beatrice Ekoko, Communications Manager at email@example.com or call 905 549 0900.
The Ford Government has announced changes to Ontario's Endangered Species Act & these changes will only put endangered species at greater risk! Visit Environment Hamilton to get details and help in preparing written comments to submit to the province through the Environmental Registry of Ontario.
Environment Hamilton held workshops earlier this month, and has made the slides from the workshop available on the website.
A FACTS & ACTION SHEET is also provided on the website. It covers everything you need to know about the proposed changes to Ontario's Endangered Species Act and how you can submit your comments to the province. CLICK HERE to the Environmental Registry Posting. Deadline to submit comments is Saturday May 18th, 2019.
If you have any questions we are here to help!
Email Juby at firstname.lastname@example.org or call the office 905-549-0900
Hamilton Monarch Awards 2019: For gardens that nature loves, by gardeners who love nature!
Hamilton has a unique garden award program that recognizes function as well as good looks.
The Monarch Awards (since 2016) showcase and champion gardeners who create nature-friendly spaces full of native plant diversity, pollinator habitat, healthy soil, and sustainable, ecologically sound approaches to garden care. In 2018, the Monarch Awards added a new category for beginners who have just begun their “gardening for nature” journey. The Caterpillar Award recognizes those gardeners who are on their way to becoming mature Monarchs.
***NEW in 2019***
Changes to the 2019 Monarch Awards include the following:
*A move away from the competition aspect of the awards in favour of offering an inclusive opportunity to celebrate more of the work being done by nature gardeners across Hamilton.
*No longer a contest, the Monarch Awards will become a standard of excellence.
Instead of looking for “the best” gardens we’ll be looking for all the really good ones, made by gardeners who are consciously and knowledgeably creating places where nature can thrive.
*Entrants can look forward to more garden visits next year. Visits include feedback, encouragement, and suggestions from the judges.
The six categories (soil, water, plants, materials/hardscaping, cultural practices, and aesthetics) remain the same and judges will be looking for achievements in each of these areas.
Apply today to one of these programs. It’s free!
Entry deadline is midnight Sunday on June 30, 2019. Judges’ site visits are scheduled for mid-July.
Questions? Send us an email email@example.com
For more information visit http://monarchawardshamilton.org/
The Monarch Awards is a collaborative program of the Hamilton Pollinator Paradise Project (Environment Hamilton and the Hamilton Naturalists’ Club), the Crown Point Garden Club and the Royal Botanical Gardens. The City of Hamilton takes a great interest in this program and supports our efforts yearly by hosting the Awards celebration at City Council Chambers.
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