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Welcome to Grasslands Ontario: Forests Ontario’s newest division promotes enhancement of vital habitat

Posted: December 5, 2019

Hazel Bird Nature Reserve (photo by Chelsea Marcantonio of the NCC)

Ontario’s ecological integrity depends on forests, wetlands and grasslands. Each of these habitats provide unique ecosystem services, working in tandem to support a healthy environment.

Grasslands, for example, are home to a staggering abundance and richness of plant and animal species, some of them classified as at risk in Ontario. In addition to supporting biodiversity, these habitats also aid in pollination, improve soil health, and mitigate the impacts of climate change. However, Ontario’s grasslands are disappearing, threatening the services they provide and species they support.

Forests Ontario, recognizing the importance of a holistic landscape approach, is proud to announce its newest division – Grasslands Ontario. Grasslands Ontario aims to publicize grasslands as well as support for their creation, enhancement, and maintenance. By working with partners and landowners to champion these habitats – from seeding to management to monitoring –  Grasslands Ontario is working to safeguard, for generations to come, the benefits these landscapes provide.

One of these such projects is the Hazel Bird Nature Reserve grassland enhancement…

Hazel Bird Nature Reserve (photo by Chelsea Marcantonio of the NCC)

Grasslands Enhancement: The Hazel Bird Nature Reserve Project

The Nature Conservancy of Canada’s Hazel Bird Nature Reserve in Northumberland County is a national nature viewing and public recreation destination. The property is named after Hazel Bird, a local naturalist and educator who helped in the recovery of the Eastern Bluebird.

Since the property was purchased, the Nature Conservancy of Canada has been working to continually expand and improve the grassland, tallgrass prairie, and savanna habitat that dominates the southern half of the property.

Grasslands Ontario is currently working with the Nature Conservancy of Canada to enhance nine hectares of the Nature Reserve’s grasslands for the benefit of grassland birds and biodiversity in general. The stewardship work involved in this particular project includes prescribed burns, native seeding and plantings, and removal of non-native woody and herbaceous species. Monitoring of tallgrass restoration is also underway, including studying grassland bird response to GSI-sponsored treatments.

Grasslands Ontario offers support for three types of projects: 1. Creation, 2. Enhancement, and 3. Maintenance. If you want to see if you’re eligible for support or learn more about the initiative, visit us online at