Conservation: How Can I Help?

A hand holding a baby snapping turtle

What Can I do to Help Conserve Ottawa’s Natural Areas?

All of Ottawa’s natural areas remain in need of long-term protection, conservation and stewardship.  Anyone can help to protect Ottawa’s natural areas.  A single person, young or old, can make a real difference, make a real contribution.  Here’s how.

  1. Visit them.  Share them.
  2. Care for them.
  3. Secure them for the future.

Visit Them and Share Them

We spend time on the things and in the places that are important to us.  We tell other people about them.  Amidst the din of competing interests and voices, decision makers need their residents, their constituents to tell them what is important.  But we can’t describe what we don’t know.  So walk the trails and paddle the creeks.  Ski the tracks, and cycle the back roads.  Organize hikes and picnics with your friends and family.  When you get home, share your experiences and photographs on social media.  Don’t hesitate to tell your political representatives about them.  Your representatives need to know that Ottawa’s natural areas are important to you.

Are you not sure where to start?  Hopefully, this blog has given you some ideas.  Or you could contact one of the following groups.

Ottawa Valley Nature and Wildlife Photographers Facebook Page:

The Ottawa Field-Naturalists Club:

The Ottawa Bicycle Club:

The Ottawa Outdoor Club:

The Rideau Trail Association:

Many of the organizations listed below also provide information on natural areas and activities.

Care for Them

Are you interested in planting trees?  There’s a need for you.  Would you like to survey and protect Ottawa’s urban streams and rivers?  Someone can show you how.  Do public education and outreach interest you?  There’s an audience waiting.  Are you handy with a GPS and a brush saw?  There’s a trail that needs work.  Do you like to pull weeds?  Someone will set you to work on a patch of invasive plants.

Volunteers carry out enormously valuable work in the conservation and stewardship of Ottawa’s natural areas.  The organizations listed below cover the full range of conservation and stewardship actions, from advocacy and community organization to hands-on environmental restoration.  Some of them are associated with particular outdoor interests and recreational activities, such as fishing, mountain-biking or snowmobiling.  The recreational clubs and associations mentioned here promote an ethical code for their members that emphasizes environmental responsibility, protection and stewardship.

ATV Club of Eastern Ontario:

City Streamwatch Program:

Ducks Unlimited – Ontario:

Ecology Ottawa:

Friends of the Huntley Highlands:

Greenspace Alliance:

Muskies Canada:

Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs (District 1):

Ontario Invasive Plant Council:

Ottawa Mountain Bike Association:

Ottawa Riverkeeper:

Ottawa Stewardship Council:

Rideau Trail Association:

Tree Ottawa:

Secure Them

Most of Ottawa’s natural areas remain privately owned.  They have benefited from the stewardship of families and individuals who value their beauty, their diversity and their heritage.  Many such people seek to conserve woodlands in the long term for the benefit of the environment and future generations, while still retaining ownership and use of the land.  Many farm families maintain natural woodlands, grasslands, wetlands and other habitat on their properties, both for their values and the pleasure they bring.  For these people, a wide range of stewardship options exist.  Some of these options provide tax benefits to participating landowners.  If you own a property that you would like to manage for its environmental values, the following organizations may be able assist you.

Ducks Unlimited – Ontario:

Eastern Ontario Model Forest:

Landowner Resource Centre:

Ontario Federation of Agriculture:

Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association:

Ottawa Stewardship Council:

Ontario Woodlot Association – Lower Ottawa Chapter:

South Nation Conservation:

If you own natural property that you would like to protect outright for future generations, then please consider a conservation easement for your property.  Such an easement can protect your property into the future, while still allowing you a wide range of gentle uses, such as hiking, hunting or fishing.  Or you could consider an outright donation of your property to a land trust, a Conservation Authority, or the City of Ottawa.  In either case, you may be eligible for a substantial tax benefit under such the Federal Ecogift Program.  The organizations listed below can answer your questions about such programs.

Nature Conservancy of Canada:

Mississippi Madawaska Land Trust:

Rideau Waterway Land Trust:

Rideau Valley Conservation Foundation:

South Nation Conservation:

Friends of the Huntley Highlands:

City of Ottawa (ask for Land Use and Natural Systems):