Transat A.T. Inc.
In November, Ontario Nature entered a partnership with Transat A.T. Inc., one of the world’s largest integrated tourism companies. Transat is generously supporting Ontario Nature’s Discover Ontario’s Natural Heritage project to protect and restore 21 unique nature reserves across the province. This project combines the conservation of wildlife and natural habitats with the promotion of sustainable tourism. It also includes the creation of marked trails, maps, boardwalks and interpretation panels that facilitate public access to Ontario Nature’s reserves while ensuring minimal impact on the environment.
“We are very excited to be in a partnership with Transat, a company that is committed to sustainable tourism,” says Caroline Schultz, executive director of Ontario Nature. “We have a long history of connecting people with nature and conserving precious habitat, and Transat’s support helps us realize these extremely important conservation goals.”
Transat has offices in eight countries, including Canada and across Europe, and its 6,000 employees send more than 2.5 million travellers to over 60 countries annually. As part of its sustainable tourism initiative, Transat provides financial support to a select group of community and nonprofit organizations to develop projects that are beneficial to the environment and support local tourism. Ontario Nature was one of four organizations worldwide to receive funding from the tourism company in 2008. “We are proud to contribute to these four initiatives by local communities in countries that welcome travellers,” says Lina De Cesare, president of tour operators and chair of the Transat’s Sustainable Tourism Executive Committee. “Once again this year, we see that communities everywhere are developing sustainable tourism projects that deserve support and encouragement.”
Ontario Nature has been protecting vulnerable and rare habitats since 1961. All of Ontario Nature’s reserves are open to the public and contain uncommon and endangered species such as blue racer snakes, ram’s-head lady’s-slippers and red-headed woodpeckers. Many of the organization’s popular Volunteer for Nature trips include visits to the reserves to learn more about conservation and wildlife.
“Our reserves protect some of the most ecologically important habitats in Ontario,” says Mark Carabetta, Ontario Nature’s conservation science manager. “It’s wonderful to be able to take people out to the reserves so that they can experience these spectacular places first-hand.”
Hamilton Naturalists’ Club
The Hamilton Naturalists’ Club (HNC), which turns 90 this year, has much to celebrate. Founded as the Hamilton Bird Protection Society in 1919, HNC, whose mandate is to protect nature and promote public awareness and appreciation of the natural environment, now has almost 700 members. HNC members helped form Ontario Nature, then called the Federation of Ontario Naturalists, in 1931.
The group has had numerous environmental successes, starting with the designation of Cootes Paradise as a wildlife sanctuary in 1927. In 1961, HNC was the first naturalist organization in Ontario to buy a nature sanctuary. Then-HNC director Marion Shivas negotiated the purchase of the 38-hectare Spooky Hollow Nature Sanctuary for $4,500. HNC has since added 28 hectares to the property and acquired or agreed to protect three other properties, totalling nearly 50 hectares of wetland, Carolinian forest and meadow marsh. To date, HNC has raised more than $600,000 for the preservation of natural areas.
This club, which was also one of the first to create a junior naturalists’ club (the Junior Audubon Club of the Hamilton Bird Protection Society), has hosted Christmas Bird Counts for 77 years; completed the first natural areas inventory of Hamilton, in 1991; and published The Reptiles and Amphibians of the Hamilton Area in 1994, making HNC the first naturalist society in Canada to conduct and complete its own reptile and amphibian atlassing project.
HNC will mark its anniversary with a series of events in the Hamilton and Burlington area. In March, the club will lead a trip to the Long Point Biosphere Reserve; in May, the junior naturalists’ club will host a family fun day; a paddle trip in Cootes Paradise and an excursion to Short Hills Nature Sanctuary will take place in August and September. The club will finish its anniversary year with a wine and cheese fundraising event and silent auction in October.
This year, HNC has set itself a fundraising goal of $90,000 to celebrate its anniversary. The Head-of-the-Lake Land Trust, HNC’s natural areas protection program, is coordinating a campaign to find 90 people, each of whom would commit to a donation of $1,000 toward HNC’s next green space project.