How Can I Open Up 2 Nature?

“Rising global temperatures contribute to an early start to wildfire season.”
“Coastal erosion threatening residents’ homes.”
“Toxic blue green algae a hazard to pet health, drinking water supply.”

Recently, headlines expressing the dire state of the environment, like those outlined above, have flooded my social media news feeds. While such issues are undoubtedly urgent, reading them often leaves me feeling hopeless. I begin to feel increasingly pessimistic when faced with such seemingly massive issues. Eventually, these feelings of hopelessness give way to a desire for responsibility and I am left wondering what I - as an individual - can do to even begin to remedy these problems. What small part might I play?

As I start my summer job at the Freshwater Alliance, I am pointed to some of these solutions and what I can start to do. Here are 5 unique, water-focused projects in communities across Canada that are assisting with building a climate resilient future, enhancing biodiversity, advancing reconciliation, growing the economy, and ensuring strong, healthy communities. Any of these projects can be adapted to fit your community’s needs, and allow for you to take direct action towards building a water-secure future.

Building a climate resilient future
Project: Building Climate Change Resilient Shorelines with a Green Infrastructure Initiative
Organization: Watersheds Canada

Watersheds Canada is committed to building a climate resilient future through using green infrastructure to restore shorelines along the Cataraqui, Quinte, and Mississippi River watersheds. Personalized shoreline restoration plans will be developed for 30 properties and landowners will be invited to directly participate in the restoration process. Over 5000 native plants will be planted on the shorelines that are currently experiencing erosion and poor water quality due to the lack of vegetation. Using native plants as a form of green infrastructure will help to protect the shorelines against further erosion and improve their resilience to climate change.

Citizen action: Incorporate native plants into your home garden

Protecting ecosystems & enhancing biodiversity
Project: Mulhurst Bay Clean Runoff Demonstration Garden
Organization: Pigeon Lake Watershed Association

The Pigeon Lake Watershed Association will protect ecosystems and advance biodiversity in Mulhurst Bay, Alberta through the implementation of the Clean Runoff Demonstration Garden project. This initiative involves installing a clean runoff demonstration garden that will improve lake and local ecosystem health by using a low drainage solution to reduce excess nutrients from entering the lake. The project will also provide long-term environmental education opportunities by connecting community members with healthy-lake experts.

Citizen action: Build a rain garden on your property

Advancing reconciliation
Project: Growing S.T.E.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) in Community-based Water Monitoring
Organization: Living Lakes Canada

Living Lakes Canada will promote reconciliation by providing Indigenous and non-Indigenous student participants with learning opportunities and skills related to water monitoring. The trainees will develop skills for stream health and biodiversity assessments while using new, cutting-edge technologies. These strengthened relationships will promote collaborative water stewardship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities and allow for more informed land use decisions.

Citizen action: Research which traditional territory you live on. NativeLand is a good place to start.

Growing the economy
Project: Implementing Low Impact Development Techniques on Private Lands
Organization: Clean Annapolis River Project

The Clean Annapolis River Project will engage with 20 homeowners within the Annapolis River watershed to implement green infrastructure and low impact development techniques, such as cistern systems to harvest rainwater. Implementing these techniques will produce numerous economic benefits, including producing green jobs in the construction and maintenance of green infrastructure, improving property values, and reducing the costs associated with traditional, grey infrastructure.

Citizen action: Implement a rain barrel or a similar low impact development technique to manage rainwater on your property.

Ensuring strong, healthy communities
Project: Monitoring and restoration projects in the Elbow watershed
Organization: Elbow River Watershed Partnership

The Elbow River Watershed Partnership will restore the Elbow watershed headwaters using natural processes. The natural restoration process will involve planting native willows, spreading local sedge seed, and decompacting the soil. The learnings from this project will be shared through social media, encouraging the community to further develop healthy watershed plans to ensure water security.

These projects came from research completed by the Our Living Waters Network, and accompanied by 300 others profiling just a sample of the types of projects that are being planned across the country to advance water health and security. Which of these projects could you see in your home or community this summer?

Does taking on a community project seem daunting? Well, the Freshwater Alliance has lots of great ways you can join in efforts to protect water health. This summer, for example, they are using social media to encourage exploration of your local watershed and better understand water security issues? Take a look at our #Passport2Water challenge and start exploring your local waters today (and win some pretty cool prizes while you are at it)!

Starting this summer, the Freshwater Alliance invites you to open up to nature by supporting added green spaces, protecting natural areas, and furthering water health in your home, community, and region. Through a greater investment in these types of nature-based solutions, we can build a post-pandemic world in which the “new normal” means more nature and green spaces to support our overall health.

Sign our Open2Nature Pledge and get started on your journey making room for nature in your home, community and across your region.