With funding from Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada (TMMC), JGI Canada has launched the Friends of the Watershed initiative in the Grand River Watershed, part of southern Ontario’s Carolinian and Alleghenian zone. Working with the Grand River Conservation Authority, young people are restoring wetland habitat in an important ecoregion that is under increasing stress from development, agriculture and climate change.

Through the Friends of the Watershed project, young people learn about the ecological effects of agriculture and urban development on one of Ontario’s most fragile habitats.

At one time, wetlands made up a considerable portion of the Carolinian zone. Wetlands are among the most biologically productive and diverse ecosystems as well as an important carbon sink. Wetlands help purify water, control flooding, provide storm protection, recharge groundwater and prevent erosion. It is also one of the most threatened ecosystems in southern Ontario: 70% of wetlands in this area have disappeared over the past 200 years.

Our initiative incorporates numerous learning opportunities for participating students that support provincial curriculum requirements such as resource management, biology, ecology and conservation science.

Moreover, through hands-on experiential learning, young people learn first-hand what it means to live more sustainably, laying the foundation for growing the conservation leaders of tomorrow.

 

Student outcomes:

 

A thorough understanding of the Grand River Watershed ecosystem and its importance.

Improved habitat for at-risk species.

Conservation action plans to support ecological integrity in the Grand River Watershed.

 

Participating students will focus on the negative impacts of invasive species in the Grand River Watershed.
Invasive species can take over an ecosystem, eliminating indigenous plants and threatening the survival of animals that are reliant on the local habitat. To help conserve biodiversity, students will remove invasive buckthorn and replace it with native tree species.

Resources

Invasive Species Curriculum Guide

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Funding for the Friends of the Watershed initiative was generously provided by Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada.

Photo credits: Hanna Smit