Four ways I’m making 2016 a year for nature

American tree sparrow (Photo by Pia Kaukoranta/NCC staff)

American tree sparrow (Photo by Pia Kaukoranta/NCC staff)

January 7, 2016 | by Pia Kaukoranta | 0 Comments

Ah, January! Time for a new year, a fresh start and a list of resolutions to be forgotten by February. Not so in 2016!

This year, I’ve decided on a resolution that will not only be beneficial for my physical and mental well-being, but also enjoyable and relatively easy to achieve: taking more time for nature.

Here are four ways I’m planning on doing this:

1. Go birding (more than once)

Tundra swan (Photo by Pia Kaukoranta/ NCC staff)

Tundra swan (Photo by Pia Kaukoranta/ NCC staff)

In university, I took an ornithology course that included weekly birdwatching field trips, and I loved it! It was fun learning to identify new birds every week, but it was also a relaxing and refreshing way to start the day. But despite how many times I told myself I would keep it up, I’ve only been birding about once a year since graduation and have forgotten nearly all the species I once recognized.

This year WILL be different! I’ve already signed up for a bird count hosted by Parks Canada at Rouge National Park on January 10, so at least I’ll have a head start for the rest of the year. Many conservation authorities and nature groups host outings that make it easy for a beginner birder to get started.

If you’re interested in getting into birding this year, I recommend taking a look this #howtonature blog post for tips on how to get started.

2. Explore the natural spaces in and around the Greater Toronto Area

White-tailed deer, Lynde Shores Conservation Area, Whitby, ON (Photo by Pia Kaukoranta/ NCC staff)

White-tailed deer, Lynde Shores Conservation Area, Whitby, ON (Photo by Pia Kaukoranta/ NCC staff)

When I first moved to Toronto three years ago, I assumed that there wouldn’t be a lot of opportunities to connect with nature. Although you may have to drive beyond the suburbs for true wilderness, it turns out the city and surrounding areas are full of green spaces. Even the more urban parks and conservation areas can be great places to spot wildlife and get your fill of fresh air.

Since moving here, I have been trying to explore the many parks, conservation areas and other natural spaces around me, and will be continuing to do so this year.

3. Take more pictures

Large format camera lens (Photo by Wikimedia Commons, Image Gallery of the Agricultural Research Service (U.S. Department of Agriculture))

Large format camera lens (Photo by Wikimedia Commons, Image Gallery of the Agricultural Research Service (U.S. Department of Agriculture))

I like taking pictures and love looking back at old photos. My family also lives far away, so photos are the only way I’m able to show off some of the amazing places I get to explore. Unfortunately, I tend to forget my camera at home or simply forget to take pictures when I’m out, so this year my goal is to have more pictures at the end of the year.

If you’re also looking to improve your photography this year, check out these tips on taking better nature photos in the winter.

4. Volunteer

Joining CV events gives me an opportunity to visit the beautiful NCC properties. (Photo by Miguel Hortiguela)

Joining CV events gives me an opportunity to visit the beautiful NCC properties. (Photo by Miguel Hortiguela)

There’s nothing like spending the day outside doing manual labour! At least that’s how I feel. My goal every year is to volunteer as much as I can, preferably doing something outdoorsy and physically exhausting. It’s a great way to spend a day; you get to meet new people who are interested in the same things as you are, it’s a good excuse to go somewhere you’ve never been and you feel great at the end of the day.

Conservation Volunteers at the Deck the Halls event (Photo by Nick Tardiff)

Conservation Volunteers at the Deck the Halls event (Photo by Nick Tardiff)

Even though I work at NCC, I love going to our Conservation Volunteers (CV) events. It gives me an opportunity to visit the beautiful properties that I (in my very small way) help to protect and motivates me to get back in the office again the next day.

In addition to NCC’s CV program, I’m sure there are tons of volunteer opportunities in your area, wherever you live, and that you can find something that is just right for you. Keep an eye on this page for information on CV events coming up in 2016. Hope to see you there!

What are your resolutions for 2016? If you’re still searching for a resolution that will make you happier and healthier, I invite you to make 2016 a year to (re)connect with nature with me.

About the Author

Pia Kaukoranta Pia joined the Nature Conservancy of Canada in 2013 and currently works as the development coordinator, major gifts for NCC’s Ontario Region.

Read more about Pia Kaukoranta .

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