Gathering of Stewardship Councils in South-West Ontario

Stewardship gathering in Phil's barn

Stewardship gathering in Phil’s barn

Site visit on Phil Holst's farm

Site visit on Phil Holst’s farm

In our last issue of SNO Squall, we told you about a stewardship forum in Newmarket for Central Ontario stewardship councils. This month, we continued our outreach program with a forum for stewardship councils in South-West Ontario. It was held on Saturday June 20 and hosted by SNO and Stewardship Oxford, in a wonderful converted barn on Phil Holst’s farm near Woodstock. Phil is a SNO Leadership Committee member and Vice-chair of Stewardship Oxford.

The forum was attended by representatives from five stewardship councils (Elgin, Haldimand Norfolk, Huron, Oxford and Waterloo). Other participants included Forests Ontario, Ontario Ministry of Environment and Climate Change, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (OMNRF), SNO and Trout Unlimited Canada.

A highlight of the day was the opportunity to visit several projects on Phil’s property. The first is a pilot research project designed to assess opportunities for assisted migration tree planting to help with adaptation to climate change. The project includes red and white oaks from Ontario, Tennessee and Pennsylvania. The project partners – Forests Ontario, Stewardship Oxford and Forest Gene Conservation Association – hope to determine which trees will be best suited for this area in 40-50 years. The second project is a pond/wetland complex designed to filter drainage water from the farm fields. It includes a municipal drain that can be controlled to release water after heavy rainfall and retain water in drier conditions.

The forum featured updates from the stewardship councils and agencies and a panel discussion on capacity building. The panelists were Phil Holst (Stewardship Oxford), Steve Bowers (Forests Ontario) and Dave Depuydt (OMNRF), and the panel was moderated by Suzanne Barrett. The panelists provided practical advice and tips for managing volunteers, helping landowners, effective communications, finding resources and developing new partnerships.

We also discussed opportunities for collaboration. Participants agreed that the forum was very useful and suggested a number of future activities.

SNO could:

  • Post a Stewardship Council Directory on SNO’s website, including a photo gallery
  • Compile a directory of funding opportunities
  • Explore a list serve for dialogue and information exchange
  • Convene similar meetings in future, hosted by different stewardship councils
  • Provide “how to” training for example in webinars and/or workshops
  • Compile information about available resources (from workbooks to equipment)

Stewardship groups could:

  • Submit articles and success stories for SNO Squall
  • Submit case studies for SNO’s website showing the effectiveness of stewardship activities

A full report on the forum will be posted on SNO’s website soon.

Suzanne Barrett, Chair, Stewardship Network of Ontario

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