Working with partners in support of Ontario’s grasslands and the habitats they support.
Grasslands mitigate the effects of climate change while also providing habitat for species at risk, improving pollinator health, and supporting biodiversity.
As grassland habitats disappear due to land conversion, so do the species that rely upon these ecosystems for their survival. In fact, some of Ontario’s grassland species are listed as Species at Risk, with grassland bird populations in particular experiencing a sharp decline over the past decade.
The ideal habitats for the threatened Bobolink and Eastern Meadowlark bird species are large, open grasslands. As grassland habitat continues to decline, so do Bobolink and Eastern Meadowlark population numbers.
Of all the ecological services provided by grasslands, biological diversity is the most paramount. A range of species depend on the habitat, shelter, food, nesting opportunities, migration stopover areas, and winter cover found in grassland ecosystems.
Tallgrass prairies are one of North America’s most diverse and productive types of ecosystem. They are also Ontario’s most threatened type of ecosystem.
Pollinator species such as bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds depend upon a steady supply of pollen and nectar. Grassland plants provide these food sources, in addition to shelter and nesting habitat.
In many cases in Ontario, grassland habitats have been fragmented. A lack of continuous, suitable habitat impacts pollinator species health.
Changes in land use have led to a significant decline in grassland environments across Ontario, threatening the benefits which these ecosystems provide.
When we create, maintain, and enhance Ontario grasslands, we support the provision of a wide array of benefits to grassland species, as well as other ecosystem services.
But it’s not always as easy as planting – grassland habitats require active management to maintain their suitability for grassland species.
Grasslands Ontario, a division of not-for-profit organization Forests Ontario, provides awareness and support towards creation, enhancement, and maintenance of grassland habitat.
The creation of a minimum of 4 hectares with a minimum width of 200 meters by planting, seeding or restoring land that currently has no or little value to habitat development.
Where good or moderate quality grassland habitat exists, and active management is undertaken every 4 years or less to improve grassland habitat quality.
Where suitable high-quality grassland habitat exists and activities such as grazing, harvesting, burning or cutting are managed to benefit grassland birds.
The Hazel Bird Nature Reserve, a national nature destination, has been the site of ongoing grasslands restoration. Working with Grasslands Ontario, The Nature Conservancy of Canada is continuing this work, ensuring a minimum of 11 hectares of enhanced grassland habitat for birds.
Grassland habitats provide a variety of ecosystem goods and services, and play an important role in supporting a healthy environment. Check out our resources about the values of grasslands.
Let us know how we can help you.