In mid-November staff from St. Williams Nursery and Ecology Centre attended the annual Latornell Conservation Symposium. Latornell is the preeminent conservation conference, bringing together government ministries, conservation authorities, policy makers, nongovernmental organizations, academics and businesses to discuss the challenges and future of conversation. The conference provides a great opportunity to share ideas and learn what others have been doing to help protect Ontario’s environment.
This year’s theme focused on green infrastructure and how it is an important part of tackling a host of issues such as climate change, biodiversity loss, water management, public health and fostering sustainable communities. Green infrastructure includes living systems such as natural areas, forests, parks, streams and riparian zones, wetlands and agricultural lands, as well as engineered facilities such as green roofs, rain gardens and stormwater ponds. It can be implemented at multiple scales including regional networks of open spaces, agricultural lands, natural areas, and through site-specific practices.
Keynote speakers Dr. Faisal Moola and Dr. Dianne Saxe kicked off the conference. Dr. Faisal works with the David Susuki Foundation and has spent years working to protect wild areas such as the Great Bear Rainforest, and working with communities to establish local natural areas, such as the Homegrown National Park in Toronto. In his talk, Dr. Faisal reminded us that natural spaces have amazing beneficial impacts on the health of the communities who enjoy them. Next time you’re feeling stressed, go for a walk out in nature and reap the benefits!
Dr. Dianne Saxe is the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario. Previous to taking on this arms-length, government watch-dog role, Dr. Dianne was a highly respected environmental lawyer. In her current position she works hard to keep the public informed and the government in check, working to protect the environment and prepare for the future. Dr. Dianne talked about the Environmental Bill of Rights, which gives Ontarians the right to know about — and have a say in — government decisions that affect the environment. If you want to know more about an issue or a specific project, have a say in what the government is doing, or voice a concern, you’ll find the resources you need on the website of the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario.