Book SectionsTable of Contents
The Problem Puddle Power Frog-Friendly Backyard Why are we concerned about amphibians?
Wetlands - function/type Wetland issues
How to help amphibians
Community Green Plans
Community Green Plans
Why not get your whole community to adopt, restore, or create wetlands? Many industries own large lawns or unused fields that can be rehabilitated for wild life. Land occupied by local parks, railways, cemeteries, golf courses, local businesses, roads, schoolyards, shopping malls, parking lots, roof top gardens, hydro corridors, churches and your own backyard lie waiting rehabilitation. Develop a community action plan for the greening of your community. Integrate your greening programme with existing green areas and wetlands. Include hummingbird, butterfly and scent gardens; bat and bird boxes; snake hibernaculums; and turtle nesting beaches. Link your green area with that of the next community. YOUR ACTION can improve the quality of your local environment and local projects can help to develop an awareness of broader ecological issues. You are also increasing the pool of skills your community can use to help others.
Look for existing community groups who may already have access to municipal planning staff who can help in your green plan. Municipal works and planning departments, Ministry of Natural Resources offices and Conservation Authorities have expertise which they can contribute to your community action plan, but lack funds or staff to implement projects. Approach service clubs for support from the business community. Once you have decided on a plan, be firm. Planners need encouragement to undertake projects, which may be experimental, such as pond building and wetland creation. Consult with local naturalists, regional conservation authorities, and Ministry of Natural Resources staff before altering any wetland or watercourse. The Adopt-A-Pond coordinator can visit your area and advise on how to plan a wetland based on local hydrology and the species likely to occur in your bioregion.
Wetland restoration projects are best initiated from within a community and must be done in consultation with the community. A survey of homeowners will provide a list of desirable projects which the community will support. Your green plan must be self sustaining and self regulating which means that after an initial high energy phase less management will be required to maintain the ecosystem. Ecosystems are dynamic, changing and not created in a day. A pond this year; a patch of shrubs, and a meadow the next year; and then add vegetable, butterfly or scent gardens in following years.
Set realistic targets for your green plan. It is important to remember that people are part of urban ecosystems and will impact on that ecosystem. Avoid expending energy creating a wetland for species which just cannot survive in your bioregion. Look at models of existing wild areas in city parks, woodlots, ravines or river valleys and get some indication of what species have lived and can live in your particular area. These represent realistic targets for restoration and habitat creation projects. For example, in Metropolitan Toronto with 4 million people, indicator species of environmental health found in High Park and Toronto Islands include the common toad, leopard frog, snapping turtle and garter snake. When new habitat is created we might expect one or more of these species to colonize the area. In fact, when the new Leslie Street Spit landfill area was created, toads and leopard frogs followed by garter snakes were the first non-avian vertebrate species to colonize the new habitat.
Toronto has river valleys in various stages of disturbance. If we select the Rouge River Valley as a model, gray treefrogs, red back salamanders and red belly snakes indicate a healthy valley ecosystem in an urban area. Existing Metro Toronto populations of spotted salamanders show that high quality environment exists in a large city and we should focus special efforts on preserving them. Each bioregion of Ontario has its own species which indicate environmental health. Each municipality can determine the local landforms and habitats that are important to the natural area mosaic of your community.
Healthy people and healthy ecosystems go hand in hand! We should all have access to natural areas and wild life without leaving the area where we live. This is a local issue and the quality of life begins in your own backyard. The diversity of landscapes that children are exposed to affect their experiences. The loss of wild areas and the species that inhabit them results in the loss of our experience with them and the extinction of experience itself.
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