Annual Report 2015-2016 | Carolinian Canada

Chair's Message

Annual Report 2015-2016

Don Pearson

Sharing a Big Picture Vision

Carolinian Canada made a few good leaps and hit a few hurdles in 2015-16 towards our strategic directions to connect, measure and sustain a Big Picture vision. 

How do you connect one quarter of all Canadians?

This year we connected our Big Picture vision and flagship Ecosystem Recovery Program to local economy, health and culture. To save wild places, we helped people explore their natural world through EcoTrails and outdoor adventure.  To steward whole landscapes, we helped Landowners Leaders showcase best practices and launched our new series of Big Picture Principles. To seed healthy habitats, we expanded Go Wild Grow Wild, a landmark event for the Zone, connecting thousands of new allies to conservation programs and green businesses. 

Our network, now 4000 strong, is steadily growing and strengthening relationships with First Nations and municipalities.  We continue to coordinate one of the largest ecosystem recovery networks with over 150 partners who help hundreds of rare and iconic Canadian species.  We reached our goal of Conservation Action Plans for all biodiversity hotspots with the addition of the Rouge.

How do you sustain a Big Picture approach?

Our sustainable funding strategy helped us balance our budget this year, despite the loss of major sources of funding. Through a mix of earned income and member donations, we were able to run on a shoestring. As a result, we were sad to lose several good team members.  However, we are not the only conservation group feeling the pinch.

This chronic trend of under-resourcing conservation is alarming and puts the future of the Big Picture and this ecoregion into question.   We call on all sectors to work together to expand resources to meet the needs for natural infrastructure to support healthy landscapes.

How do you measure a vision?

Our Big Picture Report Card program shows that less than 3% of the landscape is protected here and biodiversity continues to be lost despite many gains in environmental protection in the past three decades since we started our collaborative program.  Together, we have slowed the losses and each decade we have enhanced our vision, goals and influence.  As we approach 2020, we believe the tide can be turned with a focused strategic, effort on key targets from all who care about wild species in Canada.

Michelle Kanter

Growing a Green Future

We save wild species and spaces in Canada’s deep south because this zone is one of the most vibrant, diverse and threatened landscapes in Canada. Saving Canadian biodiversity is not just a matter for nature-lovers.  Smart communities know that nature is at the heart of the health and well-being of our home landscapes. 

Canada’s most vibrant ‘garden’ is home to some of Canada’s most productive land and 25% of our population.  A green future is everybody’s business.  The Big Picture connects actions across the zone from urban to rural, from private to public, along trails, rivers and by-ways.  It is a recipe for healthy, resilient landscapes and a survival kit for climate change.

With strong resources, conservation in this region can engage Canadians at a grand scale and act as a model to other parts of the country. The size of the area of do-able, there is a plenty of ‘people-power’ and we can harness climate-resilient ecosystem benefits to cost-effectively address multiple landscape priorities.

We invite you to join our community to proactively address major landscape challenges and grow home landscapes that are healthier, safer and more resilient for wildlife and people.

Who We Are

Annual Report 2015-2016


Advance a collaborative conservation strategy for healthy ecosystems in Ontario’s Carolinian Life Zone.


Greening the Future in Carolinian Canada

The Coalition's vision for healthy landscapes is demonstrated by the Big Picture, an important tool for hundreds of conservation allies and stakeholders to restore a natural heritage system in harmony with existing land uses. The Coalition uses the Big Picture as a basis for exploring key issues, networking between stakeholders, promoting a researched understanding and catalyzing effective action.

Board Groups

Ontario ParksForests OntarioOntario Invasive Plant CouncilConservation Ontario - Natural Champions

Ontario Nature - Federation of Ontario NaturalistsLong Point World Biosphere ReserveNature Conservancy CanadaBird Studies Canada

Board of Directors

Don Pearson


Caroline Biribauer

Vice Chair

Conservation Ontario

Mark Helm


Chris Turner


Owen Williams

Ontario Invasive Plant Council

Dawn Bazely

Kristen Bernard

Nature Conservancy of Canada

Brian Craig

Long Point Biosphere Reserve

Alistair MacKenzie

Ontario Parks

Paul General

Ron Wu-Winter

Joshua Wise

Ontario Nature

Jessica Kaknevicius

Forests Ontario

Audrey Heagy

Bird Studies Canada


The CCC Team

Michelle Kanter

Executive Director

Jarmo Jalava

Director of Ecosystem Recovery

Lisa Boyce

Administrative Assistant

Tristan Bentley

I.T. Systems Administrator, Managing Editor

Lauren Selby

Event Specialist, Education Specialist

Karolyne Pickett

Carolinian Zone Ecologist

Jennifer H

Social Media Specialist

Anthea Rowe

Marketing Specialist

Betsy McClure

Go Wild Grow Wild Assistant

Kelly Johnson

Habitat Stewardship Specialist

Sarah Hodgkiss

Program Manager

Bronwen Buck

EcoTrail Specialist, Social Media & Outreach Coordinator

The Big Picture in Action

Annual Report 2015-2016

The Big Picture is a collaborative conservation strategy, created in 2000 with the support and input of our wide network of conservation partners.  The Big Picture aims to establish a viable, functioning natural heritage system to support biodiversity and healthy human communities across the deep south of Ontario.  

We have been implementing the Big Picture in collaboration with over 130 partner organizations through initiatives like our Conservation Action Plans for biodiversity hotspots, and our high-impact outreach and education initiatives under the "Grow Wild" umbrella.

Big Picture Principles focus on Critical Issues

Carolinian Canada launched a series of Big Picture Principles to provide a position and practical best practices for critical issues in the Zone. The first on invasive alien species garnered interest from a variety of sectors when released. It will be highlighted at the 2016 Ecosystem Recovery Forum. Two more are in progress focussed on climate change and natural infrastructure.

Big Picture Report Card Program Underway

The Big Picture Report Card asks "How far have we come in 15 years as a community working together for a healthy ecoregion?" At AGM 2015 we invited you to join us in developing a landscape-level Big Picture monitoring tool to inform and target our collective conservation effort.

It is often said "You cannot manage what you do not measure". We launched the “Big Picture Report Card” program as part of our strategic plan to monitor ecosystem health and recovery efforts across the Zone. In April 2015, we released a discussion paper, with support from TD Friends of the Environment. It provides a preliminary look at the data by county, showing that the Zone has half of the natural infrastructure needed for healthy landscapes. You can participate in this long range program by completing a simple Big Picture survey.  Review our discussion paper. Contribute your perspective. Identify your goals and measures for healthy ecosystems.  Showcase your biodiversity success. Share your stories to save, steward and seed the unique nature of Canada’s deep south.

Carolinian Canada is a member of the Ontario Biodiversity Council and we anticipate working closely with the OBC with the Report Card initiative.

Learn More About the Big Picture Report Card

Be Part of the Big Picture

Ecosystem Recovery Program

Carolinian Canada Annual Report 2015-2016

From Landowners, to municipalities, to First Nations communities and beyond, Carolinian Canada's flagship Ecosystem Recovery Program continues to green the future with over 150 partners.

Talking about Healthy Ecosystems

One of the year’s highlights was our 2015 Ecosystem Recovery Forum, hosted by the Chippewas of the Thames. Representatives from eight First Nations showcased their efforts to protect and recover species at risk at the event, which was attended by over 130 people from across southern Ontario.

Landowner Leaders Community Grows

Thanks largely to the generous support of Environment Canada in 2015-16, Carolinian Canada’s Landowner Leaders Program helped ten new private landowners develop Carolinian Habitat Action Plans (CHAPs) for their properties in Chatham-Kent, Elgin, Lambton and Middlesex counties. These CHAPs include measures to protect and restore over 148 hectares of habitat for 63 different species at risk! We now have 16 full-fledged Landowner Leaders and a sizable waiting list for the popular program. Here’s one of the many positive comments we’ve received from our cherished landowners:

“We enjoyed…putting some serious thought into our landowner plans…Spring is bursting forth as I write this, our barn swallows are back and we are grateful for living in this beautiful part of Canada. Together we can make a difference!”

Conservation Action Plans and EcoTrails make Connections

The Rouge Valley Signature Site Conservation Action Plan was completed in collaboration with eight local groups.  A public launch is anticipated at our 2016 Ecosystem Recovery Forum in Toronto.  We and our partners have now completed CAPs for all 17 biodiversity hotspots in the ecoregion!

As part of Carolinian Canada’s contribution to implementing Conservation Action Plans in Chatham-Kent, we completed a detailed life science inventory, restoration plan, invasive species plan and outreach plan for the Canada South EcoTrail. The decommissioned rail corridor spans the breadth of the large municipality and provides amazing opportunities for recreation, nature appreciation and habitat restoration. Fourth-year Western University students helped research aspects of the restoration plan through their Community Engaged Learning program.

Healthy habitat actions were promoted through the Carolinian EcoTrail Network in Essex and Middlesex. Leamington Monarch EcoTrail joined our EcoTrail Network in early 2016!  The Dorchester Mill Pond EcoTail launched a Frog and Turtle revitalization program with support of the Municipality of Thames Centre and Northdale Public School students who created a large trail sign. This year, we launched a new EcoTrail Network website where you can explore partner trails, share EcoTrail stories and grow wild by taking action to green the future in your community.

Big Picture Services come to First Nations Communities

Through our Big Picture Services initiative, we conducted species at risk inventories at Chippewas of the Thames and at Kettle and Stony Point First Nations. Highlights included the discovery of endangered Prothonotary Warblers and Acadian Flycatchers, and many other rare species and habitats on well cared-for First Nation lands.

Prothonotary Warbler, Acadian Flycatcher, and Fieldwork at Chippewas of the Thames. Photos: Jarmo Jalava

Ecosystem Outreach goes International

Our Big Picture messages to restore healthy functioning ecosystems in Canada’s “Deep South” reached over 250,000 people via television, radio and social media. We gave presentations and workshops to many hundreds of stakeholders (practitioners, landowners and youth) across the Zone, as well as internationally at NatureServe’s Biodiversity Without Borders conference in Michigan.

Our Ecosystem Recovery Program informs all aspects of Carolinian Canada's work.  See more highlights in the Big Picture and how it helped raise $3,000 in Members.

It’s amazing what can be accomplished on a shoe-string!

Go Wild Grow Wild

Annual Report 2015-2016

The Green Adventure and Garden Expo

Go Wild Grow Wild was launched on April 18, 2015 with over 80 exhibitors and partners. As a first time event, the response was incredible with 1,700 attendees, 14,000 unique web visitors, 20 workshops, demos and interactive exhibits, a climbing wall, native plant sale and a hugely popular Junior Adventures program with 8 booths and workshops designed for youth.

What People Had to Say About Go Wild Grow Wild 2015!

"This show is a one-of-a-kind opportunity to engage with a very targeted audience interested in adventure and outdoor tourism"
“Great vendors, local interests, and target market”
“Great energy and enthusiastic talks”
“...amazing people and networking”
“Awesome crowd and turnout”
“Well targeted audience”

92% of attendees were inspired to participate in more nature-based recreation

77% of attendees want to get involved in more habitat projects

Photos: Owen Williams

Go Wild Grow Wild Stayed Strong in 2016!

Volunteer Support at GWGW 2016

GWGW experienced an overwhelming response from the community.  Volunteers across many demographics came out to support our expo.  University of Western Ontario Master’s of Environment and Sustainability Program students, East Elgin Secondary School’s Environmental Leadership Program and many keen adults from across the community assisted staff in delivering a quality expo.  A large number of our volunteers came from Catholic Central Secondary School.  Lead by two amazing teachers, Ms. Veronica Sferrazza and Dan Vanlieshout, gathered 25 students to come out for the day!!!   We are so very thankful to the dedication and support from all of our volunteers!   We look forward to working with you again!

Partner Profile

GWGW has been very fortunate to connect with over 114 partners and sponsors for the 2016 expo.  We are looking forward to building on this support to make 2017 to inspire people to Get Active and Go Green!  One of those partners, Ontario NativeScape has supported the development and implementation of the Wild Child passport.  Expanded this year from their support and other partners, our Wild Child program was able to offer a passport program listing 10 booths geared for youth, and 8 special features including birds of prey and reptiles at risk shows, a climbing wall, story-time and so much more.  Thank you Ontario NativeScape for your support!  We are thankful to all of our partners who continue to support GWGW and make it a success. 


The Carolinian Canada Coalition Network

Annual Report 2015-2016

AGM 2015

Carolinian Canada's AGM took place on the eve of the first Go Wild Grow Wild Expo, brining together expo exhibitors, sponsors, and members for an evening of networking, awards, and special announcements.

Big Picture Report Card Project Launch

At AGM 2015, Carolinian Canada launched a new project to develop a landscape-level monitoring tool for use by diverse stakeholders to help inform, target and track conservation efforts.  Read more about the Big Picture Report Card - click "the Big Picture in Action" above.

Awards 2015

2015 Carolinian Canada Award Recipients

At AGM 2015, Carolinian Canada honoured Rob and Eleanor Ward of Union, Ontario with the Lifetime Achievement award. Jarmo Jalava, Carolinian Canada’s Program Director, describes the Wards as dedicated volunteers who enthusiastically steward imperiled grassland birds, provide habitat to many Species at Risk and assist in Natural Heritage Inventories.

Three individuals who have protected the natural habitat of Carolinian Canada through exemplary volunteer and land stewardship efforts also received awards. They include Al Driedger, and Grant and Mary-Ann Harvey. Danika Bax and JackieRyan received awards in the youth achievement category, and Peter Cloud Sr. received the Chair’s award in recognition of his outstanding contributions toward healthy ecosystems.

The Essex Region Conservation Authority was honoured with a group achievement award for outstanding work towards the protection of natural habitat. The Garden Club of London, Lambton Shores Nature Trails and the Delaware Nation were also awarded group achievement awards in recognition of their trail development and outreach work.

Read More About the 2015 Award Recipients

Our Network

Carolinian Canada's success is thanks to the strength of our network. Over 5000 groups and individuals in our core network represent stakeholders at every level who save, steward, and seed healthy ecosystems.

Media Reach

Publications great and small are writing about us! Our Big Picture messages to restore healthy functioning ecosystems in Canada’s “Deep South” reached over 250,000 people via television, radio and social media. Articles and events were promoted from Windsor all the way to Toronto in one of the Coalition's most successful media pushes yet.

Social Media Explosion

The Go Wild Grow Wild Team and Volunteers crafted a winning social media strategy through Facebook and Twitter to significantly expand the Coalition's reach and audience. Carolinian Canada's platforms now boast over 2000 followers, and in the months leading up to the expo saw an explosion of activity and over 50,000 views.

Carolinian Canada Volunteers Matter

Volunteer Profile: Jennifer H.

Jennifer H. volunteered to lead Carolinian Canada's social media efforts by contributing content regularly during the lead up to the 2016 Go Wild Grow Wild Expo, helping to set the ground-work for a strengthened online community. This is what she has to say about herself:

"My goal is to build a larger community in support for the Carolinian Zone. I’m passionate about biodiversity storytelling and science communication. I believe scientifically, visually and artistically we can draw more interest to the ecosystem through the use of pictures, maps, and infographics. Specializing in land stewardship; I’ve worked with a variety of stakeholders to build long term commitments in support of biodiversity, species at risk, and nature.  I’m hoping that by using both art and science to tell a story, we can expand upon the work CCC is doing, and bring in new support to protect and restore green space in Canada’s heavily populated south."

Thank you to all of our volunteers and in-kind partners, including over 200 groups and individuals!

Network Impact

Recycling with PURPOSE: Local Student's Recycling Business Donates to Carolinian Canada

Photo credit: Kathleen Blake-Pluzak

Quinton and Blake Pluzak started a recycling business 4 years ago when they were 11 and 12 years old, calling their business Pluzak Useful Recycling Protecting Our Sacred Environment (PURPOSE).  They provide their own bins to their frequent customers (mostly neighbours and friends) and collect aluminum cans and returnable glass bottles. Both boys are active volunteers in the community and are avid outdoorsmen as well, with a great deal of respect for the natural environment.

In 2015, the boys made a $300 donation to the Carolinian Canada Coalition.  Blake and Quinton said “We selected Carolinian Canada because we wanted to partner with an organization that has values similar to ours, that actively cares for the environment.  Our family has a cottage in Port Franks and the two of us are avid fishermen, cyclists, and rowers at Fanshawe Conservation Area.  The Carolinian Canada Coalition was a natural fit!”

Read More about Quinton and Blake


Annual Report 2015-2016



Government: 46%

Private: 29%

Earned: 25%


$382, 625

65% Ecosystem Recovery

28% Go Wild Grow Wild

3% Bootcamps

1% Big Picture Report Card

3% General

Our Members

Annual Report 2015-2016

Jarmo's Big Year Overshoots Goal

Our Director of Ecosystem Recovery, Jarmo Jalava, completed his “Big Year for the Big Picture” fundraiser on December 31, by seeing 287 bird species in the Carolinian Zone, and 300 in Ontario, over the year, raising almost $3,000 in support of Carolinian Canada’s Big Picture efforts. Many thanks to all who sponsored Jarmo ‘by the bird’ and a big welcome to new members!

Scanning the dawn skies for migrants at the Tip of Point Pelee. Photo: Tony Glenesk

For a few years, I'd been considering doing a “Big Year” of birding in celebration of Carolinian Canada's 30th anniversary. Well, in 2015 I finally took the plunge and made the pledge! What had held me back was that for the "30:30" campaign I thought it would be nice to try the extreme challenge of observing 300 species of birds within the Carolinian life zone of Ontario within one 12-month period. With no small amount of birder's luck and the willingness to be "on-call" whenever a rare bird is reported this might be doable, but would involve burning A LOT of carbon and sacrificing a bit too much family and work time.  So, I set a more modest goal of trying to observe 270 (3 X 3 X 30) species in municipalities that overlap with the original Carolinian Canada boundaries. Even this wouldn't be a cinch.  Anyway, the most important thing was to support Carolinian Canada.  I reached my goal of 270 species for the Carolinian Life Zone on September 3 on the Hamilton-Burlington waterfront.  It was a rare Sabine's Gull -- FOUR of them, actually!  And on December 27 I saw my final addition the 2015 Carolinian zone list, a Thayer's Gull at the Wildwood Reservoir near St. Mary's, Ontario, which brought the year's total to 287!  Along the way I had the chance to criss-cross the life zone, visiting many of Carolinian Canada’s outstanding biodiversity and birding hotspots – Point Pelee, Rondeau, Long Point, the marshes of Lake St. Clair, The Pinery, Kettle Point, Long Point, Backus Woods, the Niagara River, and many more natural treasures.  I met may fine and friendly folks along the way.  And I saw some fabulous birds, including a Chuck-Will’s-Widow, a Mississippi Kite and a Painted Bunting.  In the end, I came within a few hundred dollars of my $3,000.00 fundraising goal – what a great Big Year it was!

- Jarmo Jalava, Director of Ecosystem Recovery

50 groups and 140 individuals were members in the Coalition this year.  Our active network includes 5,000

Cannopy Member Groups

Association for Canadian Educational Resources (ACER) Boggio Family Pharmacy City of London Conservation Ontario East Elgin Secondary School
Essex Region Conservation Authority Forests Ontario Garden Club of London Grand River Conservation Authority Kettle Creek Conservation Authority
Lambton Wildlife Incorporated London Environmental Network Long Point Basin Land Trust Lower Thames Valley Conservation Authority Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation
Native Trees and Plants Nith River Native Plants North American Native Plant Society Ontario Invasive Plant Council Ontario NativeScape, a division of Rural Lambton Stewardship Network
Ontario Parks - Pinery Provincial Park Parks Canada ReForest London Society for Ecological Restoration Thames Talbot Land Trust
The Nature Conservancy of Canada Upper Thames River Conservation Authority West Elgin Nature Club

Seedling Member Groups

Conservation Halton Dancey Family Farm Dorchester Mill Pond Committee Greening Niagara Haldimand Stewardship Council
Ingersoll District Nature Club Jennifer Lawrence and Associates Inc. Lambton Shores Nature Trails Long Point Region Conservation Authority Long Point World Biosphere Reserve Foundation
Norfolk Field Naturalists The Naturalized Habitat Network University of Western Ontario

Heritage Member Groups

Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority Bird Studies Canada Climate Action Friends of the Rouge Watershed Nature London
Port Rowan Heritage Association

Visionary Patrons

Brian Craig Marc Dupuis-Desormeaux Don Pearson Audrone Sinkevicius

Nature Backers

Dawn Bazely Michelle Kanter Gordon Nelson Caroline Odette The Smith Family

Sustaining Sponsors

Fred D Cass Deborah Dale Mark Helm John Irish Jarmo Jalava Mike & Ruth John Burke Korol Jacquline Lorimer Daniel Shoag Don Sutherland
Chris Turner Allen Woodliffe


Jessica Kaknevicius Marlene Allen John Ambrose Elaine Balpataky Peter Banks Mindy Blinkhorn Marnie Boldt Bronwen Buck James Buff Louise Campbell
Tom Chatterton John Clipsham Chris Dancey Jane Delamere Sally Dood Doyle & Patty Brush Suzanne Edgar Nathan Garber Sarah Hodgkiss Susan Hodgkiss
Mary Hooydonk Lorraine Johnson Nikki May Katherine Oginsky Oxford Learning Cathy Quinlan Regan & Daniel Jubenville Margaret and Jim Rule Ian Seddon Karen Snider
Bernie Solymar Ron Wu-Winter


David Ainslie Pamela Alambets Jennifer Alexopoulos George Argenti Dave Baird Cheryl Barendregt Brian Bentley Kristen Bernard Caroline Biribauer Marianne Botosan
Virginia Brown Brian Calvert Jeffrey Carter Anita Caveney Stan Caveney Joan Charlton Natasha Collins Simon Courtenay Wendy Cridland Tara Darling
Dave & Kathy Townsend David Olds & Sharon Lovett Stephen Douglas Jane Dunning Loree Elgie Claire Elliott Alexandra Emery Dave Ferguson Diamond Fotiadis Chris Fraser
Paul General Kaitlin Gibbens Janice Gilbert JeanneAnne Goldrick Stephanie Gowan Carla Grant Christine Gross Audrey Heagy Marie Janicke John & Kerry Cowan
Dorothea Kanter-Bentley Kenneth & Susan Bechard Daria Koscinski Liana Kreamer Nathan Langley Jon Larson Rene Lazarowich Katherine Levan Janice Levangie Chantal Lucarelli
Kelly Marshall Sally Martyn Emily Mazi Sandra McCubbin Ryan McDaniel Val McGee Gail Meyer Kate Monk Gavin Morham Michael Naismith
Maggie Nelligan John D. Nolan Marilyn Ohler Joseph Peter Carol Richardson Marlee Robinson Tina Rodger Rike Schieven Julie Skodak Kim Smale
Diane Smith Emily Stahl Tony Van Oostrom Jen van Overbeeke Bernie VanDenBelt Sally Vernon Daniel Vining Mary Ellen Wales Owen Williams Sandra Wilson
Warren Wishart Rick Wukasch Anne Wynia David Zackon Kasia Zgurzynski


Annual Report 2015-2016

Program Sponsors

Environment CanadaGovernment of Ontario
Ontario Trillium Foundation


Go Wild Grow Wild 2015 Sponsors

Prairie Level Partners!  

Ontario Native ScapeThe Gosling Foundation

Dune Level Partners

Native Trees and Plants Windsor and Essex CountyLower Thames Valley Conservation AuthorityTD Friends of the Environment Foundation

River Level Partners

Albedo Video ProductionsWestern Fair District - be entertainedV & P's Topsoil & Landscape Supplies


Marsh Level Partners

Upper Thames River Conservation AuthorityMECConservation OntarioNith River Native Plantsmy FMSAILFree 98.1 FM Classic Rock

Ontario Invasive Plant CouncilOntario's Southwest - Shaped by NatureOntario Yours to discoverBlack Cat Concepts

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