Earth Rangers has worked really hard to make the Earth Rangers Centre highly energy and water efficient and to integrate its footprint into the surrounding grounds. So, imagine our chagrin when we found out 2 ½ years ago that 90% of the plant species found around our environmentally, ecologically aware facility were invasive species.
To address the issue we created Project iRestore, our own habitat restoration project aimed at improving the habitat around our building. Project iRestore involves working to restore 30 acres of what was primarily invasive plant species into native tall grass prairie, wetland and forest habitat.
To date we have removed hundreds of Russian olive trees, thousands of garlic mustard plants and other invasive species that were taking over the surrounding meadow. In partnership with Tallgrass Ontario, Wildfire Specialists, Environment Canada, Ontario’s Ministry of Natural Resources, Ducks Unlimited, York University and hundreds of volunteers from our corporate volunteering program, we’ve removed the vast majority of these invasive species.
The first step in this process was a prescribed burn, meant to imitate a wildfire started by lightning. This removed many of the invasive plant species, while providing access to daylight and water for the many native seeds in the soil.
Volunteers have helped the process by planting prairie plant plugs, sowing native wildflower seeds, planting hundreds of trees and continuing with the removal of recovering invasive species.
Like with all of our efforts we’re tracking the results of this program, and how biodiversity levels improve as a result of this restoration effort. To date, we’ve recorded an 80% increase in animal diversity and a 350% increase in plant species richness.
We have received support from many organizations, including a recent grant from the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, who have also committed to supporting 24 other restoration projects across Ontario through the Land Stewardship and Habitat Restoration Program (LSHRP). This government program provides $300,000 each year to community groups working to maintain and restore natural ecosystems. We are proud to have had Minister of Natural Resources David Orazietti announce this program at the Earth Rangers Centre.
We will continue to share the lessons we have learned through this project, and encourage others to naturalize the areas where they live and stop the spread of invasive species.
This project was undertaken with the financial support of:
Ce projet a été réalisé avec l`appui financier de: