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Michelle Kanter, Sarah Winterton, Jarmila Beck, Ryan Godfrey, Pete Ewins
Since 2017, Carolinian Canada and WWF-Canada have piloted the In the Zone multi-partner program in Ontario’s Carolinian Zone, a heavy populated (25% of Canada’s population) and biodiversity-rich (onethird of species) region of southern Canada that is 95% private. The aim in these heavily transformed landscapes is to restore connected networks of locally-sourced native plant habitats, by engaging large numbers of residents, with a special focus on gardens across urban and rural communities. To date, results show significant and ongoing participation. Over 5,500 people managing nearly 40,000 ha and influencing 335,000 people have joined the program. 94% want to grow more native plants. In the Zone uses an integrated systems approach to connect and train thousands of diverse residents, businesses, institutions and community groups to grow Canada’s Biggest Wildlife Garden together using tools based on the best restoration science: gardener’s app to measure wildlife value, plant tags, ecogarden and climate-smart yard guides, neighbourhood ambassadors, business partnerships, self tracking of progress with incentives and a modular multi-partner knowledge-sharing platform (www.inthezonegardens.ca). Program design combines behaviour and ecological science to focus collective effort on one simple action that supports over 100 recovery strategies: growing ethical, source-identified native plants. This focus makes it easy and enjoyable for participants to take tangible, simple action to address the dual crises of extinction and climate change while shifting community norms. The rapid response of many pollinator insect species within days of native plant blooming fuels great excitement in participants. Program results show that a fundamental shift in what people plant makes a difference in terms of reconciliation, energy savings, water protection, climate adaptation, carbon storage, sustainable landscaping, growing a local green economy and public eco-literacy. In this talk, we will share some examples of these rapid transformations, outline how to increase the supply chain for locally-sourced native plants, and consider how this successful pilot will be applied elsewhere in Canada.
Conference Presentation, SER2021
Pre-approved for CECs under SER's CERP program