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Natural Heritage System Planning in Halton Region Research Study

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Do you care about nature conservation in Halton Region? ~ Ever stop to think about the tools we have to conserve ecosystems and the services they provide, like the provision of fresh water, climate regulation, and recreational opportunities?  

Carolyn DeLoyde, a Ph.D candidate in the Department of Geography and Planning at Queen’s University, is conducting a study of the Natural Heritage System (NHS) approach to planning in the Region of Halton, and the relation between NHS and ecosystem services.

Carolyn is looking for volunteers to help with this research. Please take a moment to complete the survey here:

Here’s more information on the study from Carolyn:

My name is Carolyn DeLoyde and I am a Ph.D candidate in the Department of Geography and Planning at Queen’s University and my supervisor is Canada Research Chair, Dr. Warren Mabee of the Renewable Energy and Development Implementation Lab.  We are conducting a study of The Natural Heritage System (NHS) in the Region of Halton and we are looking for volunteers to complete a survey about the Natural Heritage System (NHS) and the ecosystem services it provides within the Region of Halton.

The proposed research investigates Natural Heritage Systems (NHS), the ecosystem services they provide, and how management of these services may be used to respond to climate change.  Natural Heritage Systems in Ontario can include parks, conservation areas, and other landscape features that are identified as essential to support natural ecosystem function. It is recognized that a wide variety of ecosystem services are provided by Natural Heritage Systems on the Earth’s landscape.  These services are critical to the well-being and functioning of the Earth’s life support system and can assist with the development of municipal responses to climate change.

A Natural Heritage System approach to planning considers the importance of maintaining and protecting ecological features in the environment such as woodlands, wetlands and watercourses.  In addition, NHS planning has clear objectives to maintain and protect ecological functions such as water storage and water quality enhancements by features such as wetlands, together with ecological interactions that occur over various scales of time and space.  Further, the role of ecological disturbance mechanisms rounds out the major components considered as part of NHS planning.  

Ecosystem services describes a framework for understanding and evaluating ecosystem processes in relation to human well-being.  In current high-growth areas such as the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA), it is imperative that Natural Heritage Systems be maintained on the landscape in perpetuity in order to ensure the continued provision of ecosystem services to the residents of Ontario and in particular to respond to climate change. My research uses a case study approach to examine the ecosystem services provided by Natural Heritage Systems in and around the (GTHA) and aims to develop new policy approaches for NHS planning that can be used within the Ontario land use planning system.  The aim of the research is to advance the ecosystem services framework to apply to Natural Heritage Systems planning as a viable tool for mitigating climate change.

Please consider participating in my research by completing the survey about NHS planning and ecosystem services from natural areas in Halton. The study will take approximately 20 minutes for you to complete and you can complete it online by clicking here or by emailing the study team at: or by phoning 613-533-6000 x 75785. Thank you for considering participating in our research!


Zigzag Goldenrod – Solidago flexicaulis

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Want to add easy-to-grow native plants that benefit local birds, bees, butterflies and other biodiversity to your garden?

Check out our Halton Pollinator Plant Profile series:

Zigzag Goldenrod – Solidago flexicaulis

A Halton Pollinator Plant Profile

Zigzag goldenrod is a perennial in the Aster family.

Habitat preferences:

Part sun to shade

Prefers sandy-loam but tolerates clay

Moderate to dry

Height: 1-3ft

Spread: 1-3ft

Flowers: Clusters of small golden-yellow flowers bloom in
July-September at the top of the stem and in the axils of the leaves

Small brown seeds are attached to a tuft of hair to aid in wind dispersal. Seeds mature in mid/late fall and are consumed by birds.

Dark green, oval-shaped leaves have coarse teeth and taper to a point.

Value to Pollinators: Provides both nectar and pollen to pollinators including beetles, flies, wasps and bees, some of which are Solidago specialists. It is a larval host plant for a few moth species, including the Bilobed Dichomeris, Brown Hooded Owlet and Twirler Moth.

Fun Fact: Zig-zag goldenrod is named for its distinctive zigzagging stem.


Summer Stewardship Success!

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As the summer season winds down and we prepare for another busy fall full of planting events, nature walks and more, we wanted to take a moment to reflect on what we’ve accomplished together in the past few months.

This summer, with the help of some amazing volunteers, we:

  • Started a new tree monitoring program and monitored the health and growth of trees in 5 of our restoration sites across Oakville
  • Gave hundreds of trees new mulch donuts through our 4 public Tree Care Days
  • Did some much-needed maintenance at 2 school pollinator gardens (as well as our 2 demonstration gardens)
  • Organized another wonderful ‘Tour de Trees’ with Cycle Oakville and MP Pam Damoff
  • Worked with youth groups and camps to plant pollinator plants, remove invasive species, mulch more trees, learn about tree monitoring, make seed bombs (and many other shapes!), map/monitor invasive species using EDDMapS and learn all about nature!
Monitoring young tree health will help us make more informed decisions for the future.

While we often pay a lot of attention to tree planting in the spring and fall, these other stewardship activities are just as important! Tree ‘aftercare’ including mulching, monitoring and watering is really important for ensuring that those little trees survive so they can become a valuable part of our urban forest! We want to make sure the hard work of all of our volunteer planters is rewarded with a beautiful, healthy canopy.

Thank you to everyone who has been a steward of nature in Oakville this summer – either at our events or through your own individual actions. You are TREE-mendous!

Get involved in our planting and stewardship activities by joining our Volunteer List or visiting our Tree Planting & Stewardship page.


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Volunteers helped us mulch trees at our Tree Care Days.