What is stewardship, why is it important, and how can the HCA help you become a steward? Simply put, stewards are caretakers of the land, and although Conservation Authorities and other environmental organizations exist to protect and preserve lands, we can’t do it all it all ourselves. This is where stewardship comes in! We need other private landowners, like you, to help care for the land and become stewards.
Learn how Stewardship creates a healthier Hamilton right here!
What is Stewardship?
Stewardship is simply caring for the land to improve it and keep it in a healthy state for not only today, but also for future generations.
Stewardship recognizes that we all have a responsibility to carefully manage the lands and waters that provide for us, and it encourages connections between people and the natural world.
Why is Stewardship important?
When it comes to nature, Hamilton is a unique spot! It’s location at the western end of Lake Ontario with the Niagara Escarpment winding through creates a micro-climate with warmer temperatures, longer frost-free seasons and milder winters. These conditions have created a wide variety of landscapes and ecosystems in Hamilton, which are home to more plants and wildlife than any other ecosystem in Canada!
While some landscapes and ecosystems in the watershed are regulated to manage what activities can occur on them, the majority of natural areas in Hamilton – wetlands, woodlands, etc. – are privately owned and not permanently protected. As a result, landowners of these natural areas have a very important role to play in stewardship. By being good stewards of the land – protecting, conserving and improving the soil, water and habitats in our watershed, their stewardship provides these benefits, known as ‘ecological services’, to all of us!
- cleaner water in our creeks and wetlands
- the protection of our drinking water from pollution
- healthy natural areas with native species of plants, trees and shrubs
- high quality wildlife habitat
- healthier soils
- cleaner air
Landowners in Hamilton have a long history of being good stewards, and as a result, many natural areas within the watershed have been improved, benefitting local wildlife and all of us. In addition to creating strong environments, land stewardship can also lead to stronger communities as landowners work together across property lines and with conservation organizations to manage natural areas and species that know no boundaries!
How can the HCA help me become a steward?
The HCA has long recognized that urban and rural landowners play an important part in contributing towards the health of the watershed. For 28 years the HCA has offered the Hamilton Watershed Stewardship Program (HWSP) to help!
The HWSP works with the public and landowners in the HCA watershed to promote stewardship and to assist landowners. The HWSP offers workshops and free site visits to land owners who want to learn more about the natural areas on their properties, the species that use these areas, and what projects they can do to help protect and improve wildlife habitat or water quality. The HWSP also offers a grant program – the Water Quality and Habitat Improvement Grant Program, to help fund conservation projects that landowners are completing on their own properties.
While the types of projects you can do varies based upon your property, all property owners can help!
- Disconnecting downspouts, planting rain gardens and installing rain barrels
- Outcome: Improve stormwater quality and reduce stormwater impacts
- Decommission abandoned or unused water wells
- Outcome: Avoid groundwater contamination
- Planting native species of plants, shrubs and trees
- Outcome: Provide pollinator and wildlife habitat, increases biodiversity, creates new natural areas, and mitigate climate change impacts
- Practice agricultural best management practices like cover cropping, manure management and erosion control
- Outcome: Conserves soils and improves water quality
- Manage invasive species, install bird boxes and brush piles and enhancing natural corridors
- Outcome: Support our local wildlife
Are you interested in learning more about the natural areas on your property, or what you can do to help improve water quality or wildlife habitat in your own back yard? Wondering if your conservation project is eligible for a grant? Please visit the following links to learn more, or contact us directly at 905-525-2181, ext. 181 or 196.