Nature-based climate solutions are actions to conserve, sustainably manage and restore ecosystems which, in turn, help to:
- store and capture carbon,
- mitigate and reduce the impacts of climate change,
- build watershed resilience and improve water quality, and
- provide critical habitat for Canada’s wildlife.
Tree planting, habitat restoration and rehabilitation and land acquisition are examples of management practices that are nature-based activities.
Conservation Authorities work with a wide variety of partners to deliver programs around tree planting, water quality improvement, flood risk reduction, habitat rehabilitation and restoration as well as agricultural management practices, all of which helps to build local watershed resilience.
Conservation Ontario is currently working directly with 18 conservation authorities to deliver 74 projects from 2021 to 2024 that deliver on multiple nature-based solutions through funding granted from Nature Smart Climate Solutions Fund for Place-based Actions (Environment and Climate Change Canada).
Projects take place on conservation authority-owned or managed lands as well as on private lands and will provide long-term agreements, ensuring lasting benefits.
Treibner Tract Wetland and Meadow Restoration
The Treibner Tract Wetland and Meadow Restoration project will restore 6 hectares of forest, 5 hectares of wetland and 1 hectare of grassland in an area that is currently under corn-beans-wheat rotation, which will sequester large amounts of carbon in the aboveground biomass and the soil. This restoration will enlarge and connect the Provincially Significant Wetland Hay Swamp to adjacent upland forested areas. This project supports migratory birds and waterfowl, enhances floodwater retention capacity of the area, and will improve air quality.
St Marys Cement Tract - Stephen's Gulch Conservation Area
This environmentally significant property in Stephen’s Gulch Conservation Area was acquired by the Central Lake Ontario Conservation Authority, guaranteeing long-term protection, and ensuring that no further aggregate extraction will take place on this parcel. The securement of this parcel also ensures avoided conversion of forest and wetlands, maintaining carbon storage and supporting future restoration for carbon sequestration beyond the next 30 years.
Kelso Quarry Shrub and Wetland Restoration
Conservation Halton is completing a shrub and wetland restoration at Kelso Quarry. Here, 1 ha of talus-inspired shrub ecosystem and 1 ha of pollinator habitat is being created. This will enhance the site’s ability to establish diverse native plant species and sequester carbon, supporting species at risk and migratory birds.
Monora Park Pond Mitigation and Restoration
Monora Creek was dammed in 1965 to create a pond suitable for recreation. Over time, the dam has interrupted natural geo fluvial processes of the creek as evidenced by the accumulation of sediment in the pond. The dam acts as a barrier, limiting the connection of the upstream and downstream populations of fish and has a warming effect on downstream water temperatures.
In May 2022, CVC started lowering water levels in the pond and now, Monora Pond has been fully drawn down and Monora Creek has cut a channel through the pond basin. Vegetation has been established, which will help stabilize the soils and help prevent sediment release downstream. The removal of the pond and barrier will restore healthy habitat in Monora Creek and the surrounding wetlands, create a new wetland habitat and re-establish flow conveyance in a sensitive cold water stream environment.
The Essex Region Conservation Authority has constructed and created two wetlands. These wetlands will capture phosphorus from agricultural fields, helping to reduce phosphorus loadings, improve air and water quality and are designed to receive and capture water during a flooding event.
Encouraging Cover Crops in the Grand River Watershed
The Grand River Conservation Authority is collaborating with approximately 100 farmers within the Grand River watershed and supporting them to establish cover crops, an enhanced cropland management activity to prevent greenhouse gas emissions and increase carbon sequestration, also benefiting water quality, soil health and biodiversity.
Soil Health Program
Lower Thames Valley Conservation Authority Soil Health Program supports farmers interested in improving their soil health by providing financial incentives to offset the cost of planting cover crops. Planting cover crops can improve sub-watershed water quality and soil health and mitigates the risk of wind, water, and tillage erosion. Cover crops can reduce the amount of phosphorus and nitrogen that enter the Thames River and Lake Erie watershed and will sequester carbon to combat climate change. To learn more about the program visit the website: https://www.lowerthames-conservation.on.ca/conservation-services/agriculture/
Restoring the soil sponge on the Trent River at the Trenton Greenbelt CA
A 100 m shoreline length of rare riparian prairie/savannah grassland habitat is being restored in the urban downtown park on the bank of the Trent River using climate resilience focused approaches such as soil carbon sequestration and stormwater retention. Restoring the soil sponge at the Trenton Greenbelt Conservation Area will promote soil ecology restoration for optimized carbon sequestration, stormwater infiltration, drought resilience, and rare prairie-savannah habitat creation.
Restoration of Riparian Areas and Wetlands
Through this project, 18 hectares of riparian area and 3 hectares of wetlands will be restored. This project will increase vegetation and connectivity between natural areas, resulting in enhanced watershed resiliency, reduced flow rate, and reduced risk of downstream flooding. Widening riparian buffers improves water quality by stabilizing banks and filtering runoff from adjacent lands. This restoration will also support species at risk and migratory birds in the area and improve fish habitat.
Land Conservation Plan
Mississippi Valley Conservation Authority’s Land Conservation Plan sees priority parcels of land currently under the pressure of development protected for the long-term. The lower watershed has undergone significant deforestation and wetland filling and draining. Retaining these areas in a natural or enhanced state will provide a variety of ecosystem services and will help protect natural systems that are vital to the recreational tourism industry of Lanark County.
Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority has constructed 4 wetlands and will construct 6 more in 2023. These wetlands will act as an important stopover point for migratory birds, providing places to forage, drink fresh water and shelter. Wetlands in headwater areas such as this act as sponges, absorbing and slowing water to reduce downstream flooding. Wetlands and their associate buffers filter water and slow down water to help reduce erosion further downstream.
Cooper Marsh Biodiversity Project
The Cooper Marsh Biodiversity Project is a biodiversity-enhancement effort aimed at protecting and enhancing the Marsh’s rich biodiversity through restoration projects, including the creation of open water habitat, native meadows, and riparian plantings. This project will increase carbon sequestration, mitigate pollution, reduce the impacts of climate change, regulate water levels and enhance forest cover. Cooper Marsh Conservation Area is home to numerable species at risk, provides valuable habitat to over 200 bird, 30 fish, and 8 amphibian species and is a key staging area for wetland birds during migration.
Tay River Shoreline Restoration
Rideau Valley Conservation Authority is restoring the Tay River shoreline by planting native trees, shrubs, and herbaceous plants. The project area contains many species at risk such as the Eastern Musk Turtle, Eastern Meadowlark and Barn Swallow, all of which will benefit from enhanced habitat conditions along the shoreline. Continued naturalization efforts will help extend and connect the shoreline area of the Perth Wildlife Reserve and Tay Wetlands upstream and deep-rooted native vegetation will help mitigate effects of future high water/flooding events.
Ecological Restoration Dickenson Creek Wetland Complex
Dickenson Creek Swamp is a 238.4-hectare complex of five evaluated wetlands, which form part of a core natural heritage feature and important wildlife migration corridor. Improved air quality will be achieved through the re-establishment of nearly 100 acres of forest and restoration of ecosystem function to over 90 acres of wetland.
McLean Conservation Lands - Riparian and Buffer Plantings
Three hectares of cropped riparian areas will be retired in this project. In its place, trees and shrubs are being planted. Carbon sequestration will be achieved through tree growth and greenhouse gases will be reduced through the elimination of cropping. This project will increase connectivity between natural areas and natural buffers will reduce runoff, absorb, and collect debris, particulates and nutrients.
The Meadoway Naturalization Project
The Meadoway project will provide a naturalized link between Rouge National Urban Park and downtown Toronto, connecting over 15 greenspaces and seven watercourses. The existing hydro-electric corridor will be converted from manicured grasses to a diverse, high-functioning meadow ecosystem. Meadow restoration from turf grass to native meadow will increase carbon sequestration through the establishment of a biodiverse plant community.