With a grant from Ontario Trillium Foundation, Tallgrass Ontario and Ontario NativeScape have partnered to deliver a new project called “Corridors For Pollinators” to change traditional wildlife habitat management practices along roadsides, parks and utility corridors.
Traditionally, roadsides, parks and utility corridors have been managed in ways not beneficial to supporting wildlife populations.Seeded with non-native grasses, these open spaces are often regularly mowed, sprayed and overrun with invasive species which have the potential to limit overall vegetation species diversity and longevity of available nectar sources. The Corridors for Pollinators program will work with municipalities, townships and other public and private landowners to develop practices that support and create good quality wildlife habitat, in particular for pollinators like the Monarch butterfly. Tallgrass prairie will be planted in these areas providing native quality habitat required by pollinators and other wildlife, as well as protecting water quality, improving aesthetics and road safety, while reducing spraying and mowing maintenance.
What is the need or opportunity in the community that this project will address?
Pollinators in Ontario are in severe decline and require immediate action. Pollinators such as bees, butterflies, moths, ants, birds other insects rely on native wildflowers as a food source, moving pollen in their search for food and shelter. Some native insects like the Monarch butterfly are now listed as Species at Risk both provincially and federally due to the loss of the breeding and nectaring habitat from the widespread use of pesticides, herbicides and mowing during critical life stages.
Roadsides, parks and utility corridors are traditionally planted with non-native grasses that are mowed and sprayed with herbicides, greatly reducing pollinator habitat. By changing management practices of these areas, the availability of pollinator forage plants can be enhanced.
Tallgrass prairie that once covered a significant part of Ontario can be re-established in these spaces to provide valuable habitat for pollinators as well as a diversity of wildlife including grassland songbirds, snakes and mammals. We will demonstrate the opportunities for land managers to create native habitat in these spaces to help recover pollinator species, while reduce their former maintenance costs of mowing and spraying in summer months as well as in winter with the added benefit as a living snow fence.