Photo © Megan Lorenz \ Fotolia

Building off the core tenet that few know the environmental challenges occurring in their backyards better than those who witness them daily, the Ontario government has re-launched yet another program to solicit local engagement in improving the province’s natural spaces.

The Land Stewardship and Habitat Restoration Program – operating under the awkward acronym LSHRP – will award small grants of up to $20,000 for communities, municipalities, businesses and First Nations groups to aid in conducting terrestrial remediation efforts across Ontario, provided the group can match the funds donated by the Ministry of Natural Resources.

In its previous incarnation, the $300,000 fund provided only $4,000 per project, an amount that has been increased for the current round of applications that opened March 15, said Natural Resources minister David Orazietti in a recent interview with A\J.  

“It’s a program that speaks to Ontarians’ view of protecting the environment and the stewardship responsibilities they believe they have, to make Ontario a better place to live [while] protecting our natural resources,” Orazietti said.

“I think it’s a great program, and I look forward to working with community groups that will be bringing forward their applications, whether it’s wetland or habitat restoration or combating invasive species.”

Orazietti added: “We think it’s important to engage the public in this regard because we all have a responsibility to be cognizant of the environment that we live in and how we can make it sustainable for future generations to come.”

Eligible projects for the fund include:

  • Stream restoration: including fencing, riparian planting and fish habitat enhancement;
  • Upland or terrestrial enhancements: including tree planting, windbreaks and corridors;
  • Wetlands restoration: such as water control, plantings and excavation; and
  • Invasive species control: including either mechanical or ecological means, or site modifications.

The latest restoration program from MNR operates similarly to the Great Lakes Guardian Community Fund from the Ministry of the Environment, the second round of which was announced in early March.

Both programs are attempting to find a balance between the expertise of government scientists and the local knowledge of First Nations groups and community organizations like conservation agencies, something Orazietti said is “essential” to the success of the program.

"Obviously there is a certain body of knowledge out there from scientific experts we would have regardless of what part of the province you’re in,” he said. “But I think it’s important, especially when you’re talking about First Nations, to take into account information they have had for generations with respect to their territories.”

Got a great project in mind that could benefit from LSHRP funding? Applications are due by midnight on Friday, May 3. Get further information on program guidelines and application forms.

Andrew Reeves is the Editor-in-Chief of Alternatives Journal. Overrun, his book about Asian carp in North America, will be published in Spring 2019 by ECW Press. His work has also appeared in the Globe & MailSpacing and Corporate Knights. Follow him on Twitter.

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