Kitchener-Waterloo

Cambridge eco project hopes to map pollinator gardens from Waterloo region to Toronto

An eco reserve based in Cambridge, Ont., is working to build a pollinator map along the Toronto-Waterloo region corridor.

About 150 people have registered gardens but organizers hope to get 1,000

The rare Charitable Research Reserve is looking for 1,000 people with pollinator-friendly plants in their garden to sign up. (Submitted by Laura Klein)

An eco reserve based in Cambridge, Ont., is working to build a pollinator map along the Toronto-Waterloo region corridor.

The rare Charitable Research Reserve is looking for 1,000 people with pollinator-friendly plants in their garden to sign up.

Laura Klein, Gosling engagement coordinator at rare — who facilitates the project — said it is important because these gardens support and maintain pollinators by providing the necessary habitat. 

"Pollination is a central, ecological process, so that means it's critical for healthy plants and for productive ecosystems," Klein told CBC K-W.

"So, having a pollinator garden at home is a great way to contribute to a healthy environment."

Connecting people

In addition to supporting pollinators, Klein said the 1,000 gardens project is actually connecting people who have individual gardens at home with each other.

"Right now we have about 150 people that have currently registered their gardens with the project but we're hoping to get to 1,000," Klein said.

Pollination is critical for healthy plants and for productive ecosystems. (Submitted by Laura Klein)

"The idea came about and we started working on it actually in spring of 2020 as kind of a tool for outreach, for education, and it was spurred on as a way for people to become part of something bigger. 

"Last spring, when everyone was staying at home, it felt like an important way for people to still connect with nature while still being at home," she added.

Anyone with a garden can participate

Klein said anyone with a garden, small to large, who has plant species supporting pollinators, can participate in the project. 

"So, that could be your entire yard or it could just be a few pots on a balcony," she said.

"Any garden, large to small, that has native flowering plants that will support pollinators can get involved."

The rare Charitable Research Reserve is mapping pollinator gardens in the corridor between Waterloo region and Toronto. (Submitted by Laura Klein)

The project's website — where people can register for rare's 1,000 gardens project — also provides a list of popular pollinator species.

These include:

  • Asters.
  • Bee Balm.
  • Black-eyed Susan.
  • Blazing Stars.
  • Boneset.
  • Coneflowers.
  • Goldenrods.
  • Joe Pye.
  • Milkweeds.
  • Pholox.
  • Sunflowers.
  • Vervains.
  • Violets.
  • Wild Columbine.

But Klein said they are hoping to learn what plants are most prevalent in urban centres.

"Our idea of the corridor is from Waterloo region through Wellington to Toronto, but we're totally happy to have people from all over register and they would still be able to see themselves appear on the map," she said.

Klein said they are also selling 'This is a Pollinator Garden' signs as part of the project.

"It's a way for people to spread the word to their neighbours and community about why their lawns might be a bit less manicured, why they don't have traditional grass," she said.

A 'double whammy' for pollinators

Professor of biology and environmental studies at York University Laurence Packer said the diversity and abundance of pollinators like bees are being influenced by climate change and habitat fragmentation.

He said a major problem for most organisms is due to habitat change caused by human activities.

Professor of biology and environmental studies at York University Laurence Packer says the diversity and abundance of pollinators like bees are being influenced by climate change and habitat fragmentation. (John Grierson/CBC)

He cited industrialized agriculture and urbanization as the two main causes of greater fragmentation. 

"It's the double whammy of climate change and habitat fragmentation that is going to make the lives of bees more difficult," Packer told CBC News.

"So, the more people who plant pollinator-friendly flowers, the better."

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Desmond Brown

Web Writer / Editor

Desmond Brown is a web writer and editor with CBC News. Drop him a line anytime at: desmond.brown@cbc.ca.

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