2021 was a year of growth for The Land Between Charity! After years of hard work as small team we were finally able to grow our staff and expand our projects! As a result, we were able to make undeniable progress towards preserving this globally unique landscape! All of our successes have been made possible through the had work of our COO Leora Berman, our Council (Board of Directors), staff, volunteers, partners, funders, donors and YOU! Thank you for supporting our important work, raising awareness about the value of nature and making efforts to live sustainably!
What exactly is so special about this region? Why should I care?
The Land Between region is the last wilderness landscape in southern Ontario! In fact, this region is home to many species and habitats that are rare in both Canada and the rest of the world! The Land Between is a refuge for common species that are now in decline (such as moose, loons, and river otters) and even endangered species like the loggerhead shrike and blanding’s turtle. This landscape is also culturally rich and irreplaceable as it contains many Petroglyphs and Pictographs, is the traditional territory of the Anishinaabe, and is dotted with historic haunts/heritage assets. Therefore, everyday we work tirelessly with the public, municipalities and business to do our best to preserve this region for future generations. Listed below are some of our greatest accomplishments of 2021made in pursuit of our endeavor!
Turtles have always been a priority of The Land Between because this landscape is one of only three refuge areas for turtles in Southern Ontario. The mission to recover turtle populations is so important to us that many years ago we started a special branch called Turtle Guardians. This year we worked so hard that we unexpectedly became the third largest incubator in Ontario – where we rescued, hatched and released over 5000 turtle hatchlings! In the wild, it takes turtles 60 years to replace themselves (to have one offspring that survives and reaches the age to breed). Therefore, every single turtle is invaluable! To help increase turtles chances of survival, reduce road mortality, and estimate trends in turtle populations, we patrolled 20 main roads this year for turtles! We also assessed over 140 potential turtle tunnel sites in Haliburton and Peterborough county, built a pilot design for turtle tunnel fencing, and installed our first turtle jump-out underpass fencing system in Haliburton County. This special fencing is built out of recycled steel food grade barrels that act as a barrier to prevent turtles and other small wildlife from getting onto roads (but allows them to safely get off the road if they somehow find themselves stuck), and guides them to road underpasses where they can peacefully cross. The “jump out” fencing will be tied to traditional fencing in the spring so that the entire underpass for turtles will be complete. In addtion, we have also helped to increase awareness of turtles crossing roads through campaigns and the installation of 2 billboards on roads with high turtle mortality.
This year has also been one of great success for our bird programs! Nightjars are a group of aerial insectivorous (eat mainly bugs) that have some established populations in The Land Between; however, unfortunately, nightjars in Ontario (the common nighthawk and whip-poor-will) are declining rapidly and are on the Species At Risk list. The declines are mainly due to pesticide use, habitat loss and climate change, and these issues are also affecting grassland birds and other songbirds across the central flyway (the path where birds migrate and where the Land Between bioregion is found). In order to conduct research to discover preferred and existing habitats, understand migration patterns, and estimate the impacts of various land uses, The Land Between has installed 34 bird habitat (insect) sampling stations across the Land Between and two Motus Wildlife Tracking tower stations (one at the Haliburton Forest and Wildlife Reserve and the other adjacent to Kawartha Highlands Park). We were also able to conduct several fall birding walks with the public!
We have also made some big accomplishments in the creation of various educational materials which will soon be made available to the public! We have been working on several GIS maps to make it easier to understand and visually see what is going on in different areas of the Land Between. For example, we have developed a Human Footprint map that shows where humans have altered landscapes in the region. We have also created The Land Between Species At Risk Tool Kit that will help landowners identify vulnerable species on their properties and learn more about how to support them! Currently, we are compiling a comprehensive list of all the organizations in the region that are working to preserve Species At Risk. We have also interviewed many of these organizations in order to learn more about their experience, strategies and any possibilities for future partnerships. Another issue our education content is trying to tackle is the proliferation of invasive species in cottage country. To help combat this we have developed a Phragmites Guidebook and Eurasian-Water-Milfoil Guide which will help people learn how to identify and remove these highly invasive species! Very exciting news!
The Land Between region is not only important because of it’s biodiversity, but also because it is the home to the headwaters of major water bodies and cities to the south. With over 2400 lakes, The Land Between has the highest density of shorelines in Ontario! This means that we also have the greatest amount of shoreland properties (shorelands are wide areas- they are more than just where the water touches the land, with interactions between water and land spanning many meters inland and into the lake basin). Shorelands are extremely important places for animals, plants and overall lake health. Shorelands are where 90% of lake processes including water filtration, fish production, and life cycle supports for wildlife occur. It is for these reasons that shoreland preservation and restoration are important for the health of our lakes! To support lake health, The Land Between Charity has been supporting landowners by offering Design Your Own Shoreland Garden programs and Natural Edge projects. In partnership with Watersheds Canada and TD Friends of the Environment Foundation, The Land Between was able to renaturalize over 6000 meters of shorelands (through native plantings) in 2021 alone!
To our 568 volunteers, thank you so much for making time in your busy lives to help out our non-human kin, preserve nature and raise awareness. Every single one of you is an inspiration to our staff, our partners and your communities. You are all Eco-Heros! Your efforts have truly made a difference and exemplify how anyone can be a force for change! If you enjoyed participating in our projects or would like to become a new volunteer click here to register for this year’s programs!
We wish you an amazing holiday season and a joyous new year!