Get Involved – Stewardship and Citizen Science

Citizen Science

Citizen science is a term used to describe public participation in science. There is a variety of citizen science projects to choose from that provide people of all ages and abilities with the opportunity to contribute to key nature conservation projects in their community.

Citizen science programs rely on volunteers like you to help us better understand our natural environment. Your observations of wild plants and animals help to identify and monitor populations, and track species distributions and spatial trends, over time.

There are many citizen science programs to choose from, with varying skill levels. Some can be done from your home or close to your home. These programs are a great way to learn new skills, meet new people and contribute information that aids the conservation of wildlife.

Species at Risk Reporting

Please help our natural neighbours! Your species at risk report provides helpful information that can aid recovery efforts. Your report will be submitted to the Georgian Bay Biosphere Reserve and the Parry Sound Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry.

Thank you for your assistance in the conservation of at-risk species.

Lake Partner Program

Lake Partner Program volunteers are needed on Georgian Bay! Water quality volunteers are needed for the sites indicated on the map below in red.

If you’re interested in volunteering, please get in touch with David Bywater from the Georgian Bay Biosphere Reserve at 705-774-0978.

Ontario Nature

There are lots of programs to choose from!

  • Directory of Ontario Citizen Science: Find a project suited to your abilities and interests. Projects focus on birds, bats, turtles, fish and much more.
  • Ontario Reptile and Amphibian Atlas: Submit your sightings of snakes, turtles, salamanders, frogs and lizards.
  • Backyard Surveys: Do you hear frogs calling in a nearby wetland or see salamanders and their vernal pool habitats in your woodlot? Learn how you can help track these species and their habitats throughout the province.

Nature Canada

Join a Nature Watch program including:

Birds Studies Canada

Bird Studies Canada have a variety of citizen science programs. Explore their website to find a program that interests you!

Programs in need of volunteers on Georgian Bay include:

Invasive Species Reporting

Invasive species are spreading quickly, and you can report their location (including insects, plants and aquatic species) using the Early Detection and Distribution Mapping System (or EDDMapS). You can submit invasive species sightings using either a smartphone or a computer. Sightings are uploaded to EDDMapS and emailed directly to reviewers to confirm. The maps and information are freely available to scientists, resource managers and the public. Having good data on invasive species locations improves our ability to manage and respond to them.

As of May 2018, EDDMapS contains more than 3.3 million records, and 38,890 of these are from Ontario. Download the app and/or register online at eddmaps.org.

iNaturalist

Every observation can contribute to biodiversity science, from the rarest butterfly to the most common backyard weed. iNaturalist shares your findings with scientific data repositories like the Global Biodiversity Information Facility to help scientists find and use your data. All you have to do is observe.

Toronto Zoo

Programs include:

Stewardship

We can all take actions to support healthy ecosystems through the care and protection of our shorelines and our water. The list below presents simple, everyday actions and stewardship practices that can keep your home or cottage’s natural environment healthy.

In Your Backyard

  • Leave space for wildlife and choose to plant native plant species. They need less care than grass and you’ll have extra time to enjoy the view and visiting wildlife.
  • Complete a self-assessment of your garden and landscape to identify areas to change and improve.
  • Leave logs where they lie. On land, they provide shelter for salamanders, insects and some snakes. In water, logs may create fish habitat or basking sites for turtles.
  • Leave dead trees standing if it is safe to do so. Dead trees provide valuable food for woodpeckers and homes for many animals. If you need to pick up dead branches, gather them in one area as a brush pile to provide shelter for small animals.
  • Avoid the use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides in your home and on your property, especially near water!
  • Don’t use old railway ties, telephone poles or pressure treated lumber in your landscaping.

On Your Waterfront

  • Keep your lot well treed and plant a buffer strip of native species along the shore.
  • Use only phosphate-free soaps, detergents and cleaners in your home.
  • Pump out your septic tank regularly.
  • Use a small floating dock.
  • If you own a motor boat, consider upgrading to an electric or fuel efficient 4-stroke motor and be sure to keep your wake low near shore and wetlands.

In Your Neighbourhood

  • Learn more about species at risk in the biosphere reserve, consider attending or hosting a presentation or workshop.
  • Watch out for wildlife on our roads and waterways.
  • Help stop the spread of invasive species. Learn what invasive species are in our area, what they look like, and monitor for their presence.
  • Support efforts that enhance or protect habitat.
  • Report your sightings of at risk species on our web site or to the Parry Sound Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry office at 7 Bay St. Parry Sound, P2A 1S4 Attention SAR Biologist or call 705-746-4201.

Life on the Bay Guide

The Life on the Bay Stewardship Program is a free program designed to help homeowners interested in decreasing their ecological footprint learn how to make the most of the Stewardship Guides. The workshops are typically two hours long and suit a group size of 8 or more. Knowledgeable staff from the Georgian Bay Biosphere Reserve will lead participants through an environmental review of the host’s property and provide additional information to help undertake any property changes.

The Stewardship Workshops are a fun way to get a group of friends or neighbours together to discuss how everyone can reduce their impact on Georgian Bay. The idea is to give everyone a chance to work hands-on with the assistance of Biosphere staff before reviewing their own property.

Glenda Clayton, Georgian Bay Biosphere Reserve staff member

The Stewardship Guide covers a range of topics including how to live with wildlife, how to use landscaping to improve water quality, best practices during construction, how to store chemicals and garbage and many more. The guide is designed to be used by waterfront property owners on Georgian Bay and inland lakes. Digital copies of the guide are available for download below or on our documents page.

If you are interested in hosting a stewardship party, please contact the Georgian Bay Biosphere Reserve at: 705-774-0978, or email [email protected].