Walking through hoodoos at Sandstone Ranch (Photo by NCC and Monte Solberg)

Walking through hoodoos at Sandstone Ranch (Photo by NCC and Monte Solberg)

Happy National Volunteer Week

Brennan and Travis at CV event (Photo by NCC)

Brennan and Travis at CV event (Photo by NCC)

National Volunteer Week is a time to celebrate and thank volunteers across Canada. The 2021 National Volunteer Week theme is “the value of one, the power of many.” This theme celebrates the incredible acts of kindness of millions of individuals across Canada and the success that individuals are able to achieve when they come together. At the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC), we are lucky to have an incredible community of volunteers who, through their actions, support conservation in many ways.

As we face another year where keeping our communities safe means avoiding large groups, we wanted to take a look at some of the acts of kindness that you can take on your own to support conservation while reflecting on some of the accomplishments that groups of enthusiastic volunteers have helped us achieve in years past.

The value of one: Add some native species to your yard

Planting native species in your yard helps create habitat and provide food for many species of native pollinators and birds. This is especially important in urban areas where it may be difficult for pollinators and birds to find suitable habitat and food. Dedicating a corner of your yard to native species can make a big difference for native species. Check out our Native Gardening 101 page to get started!

The power of many: Stake out at Bunchberry Meadows

Bunchberry Meadows willow staking (Photo by NCC)

Bunchberry Meadows willow staking (Photo by NCC)

Bunchberry Meadows is one of NCC Alberta Region’s most visited properties. With a stunning mix of old growth forests, open meadows and wetlands, the property attracts quite a few trail users each year. In the process of creating some of the visitor infrastructure, a small area was disturbed. There has been ongoing restoration on the property to return that area to native vegetation. In 2018 and 2019, over 50 volunteers lent a hand in helping plant native willow and poplar stakes in the disturbed area. The stakes will eventually take root and start to leaf out, helping to returning the area to native vegetation. Willow and poplar staking is a difficult, physical task. Without all of the extra hands, we would not have been able to plant nearly as many!

The value of one: Install a nest box in your backyard

Installing a nest box in your backyard, whether it be for a bird, bee or bat, can help create habitat and a safe place for species to nest in an area where they may otherwise have difficulty finding a suitable place to do sot.

When you are installing a nest box it is important that you do your research! Take some time to determine what species you are likely to find in your area and which you would like to attract. Different species have different nesting requirements, and it is important that you select the appropriate nest box for the species you are trying to attract. Check out these great resources if you are looking to install a bird, bee or bat nest box.

The power of many: Busy bees

The Gambling Lake property is a stunning mix of open terrain and mixedwood forests bordering Gambling Lake. In 2016, a restoration project began where 17 enthusiastic volunteers helped plant a mix of native tree seedlings, shrubs and flowers in five plots. In each of the plots, five underground bee nest boxes were installed, and a group of incredible volunteers committed to monitoring the plots over the length of the three-year project. The project ended in 2019, and, during its time, 33 volunteers joined us for our annual nest box clean out. Volunteer monitors spent over 60 hours collecting over 1,000 observations of pollinators. This project could not have been completed without the efforts and enthusiasm of volunteers over the years.

Volunteer Norm with contents of a bird box (Photo by Brent Calver)

Volunteer Norm with contents of a bird box (Photo by Brent Calver)

The value of one: Keep your gear clean when heading outdoors

Whether you’re a hiker, biker, kayaker or prefer to recreate a different way, the gear and equipment you use when heading outdoors has the potential to spread invasive species. Invasive species have few natural predators. When they spread, they can outcompete native species for space and resources. To prevent the spread of invasive species, we can all take a moment to clean off our gear after recreating. This can entail drying off your boat and gear or cleaning the mud and dirt from your boots and bike. For more resources on how to clean your gear after heading outdoors, visit Play, Clean, Go.

The power of many: Battling the buckthorn

The battle against invasive species is a long process. Once they are introduced into an area, it can take many years of ongoing control efforts and persistence to prevent the spread of the species, reduce the density of the species and hopefully remove it from the area altogether.

In the Red Deer River Natural Area, 71 volunteers have been helping us battle invasive European buckthorn over the last six years. The best method to control European buckthorn is to cut it down and remove the woody shrub. Over the years, volunteers have lent a hand sawing through the stems and stripping shrubs of berries to help prevent further seed dispersal. Their persistence and commitment has helped us continue to win the battle of the buckthorn.

When it comes to our volunteers, the theme “the value of one and the power of manycould not be more true! Whether it be taking an action in your own life with conservation in mind or working with a group to complete larger scale conservation projects, all actions — big and small — help support conservation.

Supporter Spotlight

Gifts of Canadian Nature