Friday, 3 March 2017

Exciting Latornell 2017 Announcement

Welcome to our 2017 Latornell Conservation Symposium

This year Canada celebrates its 150th birthday, and to reflect that, the theme for the 2017 Latornell Symposium is Succession.  In the environmental field, we all identify succession with natural or ecological succession as one species changes to another species in a field or forest, or a particular area of habitat.  But we also see succession in other aspects of our industry: succession of employees as they enhance their knowledge, and fill the roles of retiring colleagues; policy and legislation that evolves over time with new research and new realities; and changing attitudes of the public, policy makers, and scientists that lead to changing efforts of protection, or enjoyment.  These are all real aspects of succession that we are seeing in our daily work, and this year for Latornell we want to explore and share them.

We hope people respond enthusiastically to our call for presentations.  Check out our website and newsletter for more details on the wide range of Succession topics we are hoping to include at the symposium.  Submit your proposals via the website. We’re looking for presentations, workshops, training, and tour proposals.

And to stay up to date on symposium details, program, speakers, etc., sign up for our newsletter, and follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Stay tuned!
Blog provided by the 2017 Latornell Chair, Sean Watt

Thursday, 10 November 2016

A Natural Partnership

The theme for Latornell this year is one that gives me great hope.  The idea of collaborating with nature is a concept that I have believed in and shared for many years.  Lately, along with the other members of the Ontario Biodiversity Council, I have been sharing the message that protecting, restoring and sustainably managing biodiversity is our best defence in a world with a rapidly changing climate.  I think it’s one of the most important principles to guide the work we each do to support conservation in Ontario. 

Biodiversity is the variety of life on Earth.  It includes the plant and animal species, lands, lakes, rivers, forests and other ecosystems that provide us with a healthy environment, clean air, productive soils, nutritious foods, and safe, clean water.  This biodiversity also supports our forestry, farming, fishing, recreation and tourism industries. 

All living things are connected and rely on each other to survive.  However, it used to be that as a society, we behaved as though nature was an obstacle to progress.  And as you know, that mindset does still exist.  But there is a very positive shift happening now, where we are realizing that biodiversity is the mightiest tool in our toolbox as we build a future where sustainable use and restoration are the norm rather than the exception.

Collaborating with nature makes sense.  We need to work with and make use of the natural processes and systems if we want to maintain biodiversity and the ecosystem services we rely on for our own health and a prosperous economy.  This can include investing in natural green infrastructure to support climate change mitigation, or, building  resilience in natural systems – and in turn our homes and communities – to protect us from extreme weather such as floods.  

All green infrastructure is good.  And incorporating any green infrastructure is better than not.  But we will be most successful when we leave nature to do what it does best – this is natural infrastructure.  Evidence shows us that healthy forests, wetlands, watersheds and floodplains provide many of the benefits of human-made green infrastructure with significantly lower costs and maintenance expenses.  Conserving our existing natural resources to capitalize on the ecosystem services they provide is truly collaborating with nature.

We have to continue our efforts to conserve biodiversity for its own sake, but also for our sake.  Promoting and adopting natural green infrastructure - making it the norm – will give us multiple benefits: reduced impact of floods and droughts, better air quality, clean water, beautiful and connected natural spaces in our communities, healthy local food, and many more. 

At Latornell this year, there are a number of wonderful sessions that can help us promote and argue for natural green infrastructure.  We will be learning about greener roads and highways, integrating nature into urban design, storm water management, land securement, the importance of communicating science, and much more.  And I hope you will join me on the morning of Day 2 for the Ontario Biodiversity Council panel on the role of biodiversity and natural infrastructure in attenuating flood risk.  In the afternoon the Ontario Biodiversity Council is also pleased to offer a session that focuses on progress and the path to success for meeting two targets from Ontario’s Biodiversity Strategy: completing and implementing natural heritage systems plans and conserving 17 percent of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems as protected areas. 

It’s sometime easy to become discouraged when you work in conservation.  The stakes are high and it can feel like we are fighting a losing battle.  But there’s much strength to be gained in numbers, and the Latornell Symposium offers a great opportunity to share ideas and enthusiasm with a like-minded crowd.  I look forward to meeting many of you as we continue the important work of collaborating with nature to protect what sustains us.


Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Building your LID Practice

While LID is becoming more common in Ontario, there is still a lack of training and experience amongst contractors, which can lead to poor construction techniques. You may have a great LID design, but without proper construction practices, your LID feature will not function as intended.    Construction of an LID feature is different than a typical stormwater practice.  It requires different materials, changes to typical construction sequencing, protection of infiltration areas, and vegetation within the practice serves both a functional and aesthetic role.  Contractors must have a thorough understanding of these differences to ensure successful LID projects.

A typical LID construction process follows 6 major steps:
  1. Mass Grading
  2. Excavation
  3. Installation of underground infrastructure
  4. Backfilling with granular material
  5. Biomedia installation
  6. Planting

This video will demonstrate all 6 steps in action, through in the construction of a bioretention feature.   

To learn more about LID construction techniques, join CVC and TRCA on November 14th at the Pre-Latornell conference training Making It Work: Low Impact Development SWM Construction, Inspection, Maintenance, and Monitoring Module and check out Credit Valley Conservation’s Construction Guide and Construction Case Study 

This blog entry was contributed by Jakub Wrobel and Julie McManus of the Credit Valley Conservation Authority

Monday, 7 November 2016

Erosion and Sediment Control 

Erosion and Sediment Control (ESC) is a critical component of an LID construction project. During construction, natural drainage pathways are altered, vegetation and stable topsoil aggregates are stripped away as part of the grading process. If left uncontrolled, erosion of exposed soils can cause local air quality problems, degradation of aquatic habitats, and damage to downstream recreational areas and infrastructure. ESC is often not properly designed, installed or maintained leaving the integrity of the site and downstream drainage areas at risk.  While ESC is important to protect against many external site factors, it is also critical to protect against internal factors, particularly for a LID construction site. Improper ESC could lead to contamination of bioretention soils, clogged permeable pavers or sediment ridden clear stone beds and underdrains.  An ESC plan will first identify all erosion and sediment sources, then identify the ESC protection practices you need to put in place, such as construction phasing, minimization of land disturbances, vegetative buffers, temporary seeding, sod stabilization, horizontal slope grading, preservation of trees and other natural vegetation, and temporary and permanent vegetation establishment. For these reasons, ESC is one of the aspects of an LID project that should receive careful attention.

To find out more about ESC, join CVC and TRCA on November 14th at the Pre-Latornell conference training Making It Work: Low Impact Development SWM Construction, Inspection, Maintenance, and Monitoring Module. Otherwise, check out CVC’s LID Construction Guide for helpful tips that can be found here: 

and a video link illustrating the ESC process:

This blog entry was contributed by Jakub Wrobel and Julie McManus of the Credit Valley Conservation Authority

Friday, 4 November 2016

Tender and Contract

Tender, Contract and Pre-Construction for Low Impact Development

When constructing a low impact development (LID) feature, your tender and contract can be a tool to solve problems before they ever come to pass.  It helps ensure that a qualified contractor constructs your LID project properly, and allows you to set out clear expectations for the contractor, consultant and inspector.  It is important to be very detailed in your tender and contract, as there are critical components  that may differ from traditional construction.    Special provisions within the contract can provide detail to erosion and sediment control, material specifications and testing, inspection points, and specific maintenance protocols into warranty period.  By having that critical information in the contract it can help to prevent costly repairs and maintenance as the project goes from construction to assumption.

Communication is also an important tool for a successful LID project.  Many contractors in Ontario are new to LID and having a pre-construction meeting is a great way to help educate your contractors on what is different about LID construction.  Pre-construction meetings should include discussions about protecting infiltration areas, meeting material specifications, material storage areas, construction sequencing, and communication chains. To properly prepare yourself for LID construction, maintenance or monitoring check out the Pre-Latornell LID training workshop on November 14th being offered by CVC and TRCA.

Check out Credit Valley Conservations video on Tender, Contract and Pre-Construction for more tips and tools. 

More information about CVC’s LID Training Program can be found here:

This blog entry was contributed by Jakub Wrobel and Julie McManus of the Credit Valley Conservation Authority

Thursday, 3 November 2016

Siting and Design Verification

LID practices use techniques and specifications that differ from traditional stormwater management construction practices. Failing to follow proper LID construction methods can result in barren bioretention landscapes, clogged infiltration practices, uneven permeable pavements and costly post-construction repairs. CVC offers training courses where experienced instructors take participants through each step of the LID construction process, highlighting potential errors and explaining proper techniques. In 2017,the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) will be releasing the LID Stormwater  Management Manual, which will encouraging the use of green infrastructure. It will also identify minimum runoff volume control targets in addition to water quality control targets.  Taking advantage of the LID Construction, Inspection, and Monitoring training offered on November 14th as a Pre-Latornell workshop can help professionals stay ahead of the changes.

In anticipation of the MOECC changes, CVC has created a series of videos to complement the LID construction, inspection, and monitoring training course. Siting and verification of LID practice design is the first part of this series.  This  video stresses the importance of verifying several design and preconstruction tasks. Identifying construction boundaries and verifying grades is a critical step in all construction projects. Verifying design assumptions is needed to be done on site and then determine if any changes to the design are necessary. 

More information about CVC, TRCA, and LSRCA’s LID Training Program can be found here:

This blog entry was contributed by Jakub Wrobel and Julie McManus of the Credit Valley Conservation Authority

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Interview: The 'Latornell Experience' through the eyes of a 2015 Grant Recipient

Jayme Hughes, Latornell Communications Coordinator Interview with Greg Bunker, Kawartha Conservation

With the opening of the Latornell Grant Program this year, the Steering Committee wanted to try and give the program a bit more profile, since it tends to (shockingly) be a bit undersubscribed.  Alas, I found myself on the hunt for a past grant recipient to chat with so I could find out what their experience was like, and hear some of the perks to applying (aside from the obvious financial benefits).  

I quickly realized that I actually had a 2015 grant recipient right downstairs- Kawartha Conservation’s Stewardship Outreach Technician, and the driving force behind our ‘BlueScaping’ program, Greg Bunker.  This guy is essentially a dream to have in the office- a new Associate Landscape Architect, a dedicated team member, and a fantastic person to bounce creative ideas off of.  I knew he’d be the perfect person to talk to about the grant program!

We casually sat down in a small meeting room at the Kawartha Conservation headquarters in the ‘dog days’ of summer so I could ask him what it is he loves about Latornell, and what it was like to attend the Symposium in 2015 as a grant recipient.  

JH: Thanks for agreeing to chat with me Greg! I know you’ve attended Latornell in the past through previous career roles, tell me what initially interested you in the Symposium and what made you interested in applying for a grant last year to come back?

GB: I first learned of and came to Latornell in 2004 as a student poster presenter, and was blown away by the scope and diversity of conservation work happening across the province. I remember meeting many like-minded students and professionals, and for the first time realizing that there were so many directions my undergraduate education could take. When my partner and I decided to make a documentary about the Greenock Swamp, we started working with the local Conservation Authority there and it just made sense to put the word out at Latornell – to both reach out to and get feedback from a broad environmental conservation audience. Now that I am working for a Conservation Authority, I was fortunate enough to receive a grant to return to the Symposium last year as an attendee.

JH: Sounds like you’ve caught what I call “Latornell Fever”!  That’s so cheesy I know. But seriously, once you’ve been a part of the event, and feel welcomed into the community, you just can’t get enough.  There’s something unique about it.

GB: Totally! If I could choose only one conference to attend each year, it would be Latornell for sure.

JH: So, after successfully applying for a grant in 2015, are there any tips or tricks for the application process that you can provide to those interested this year?
GB: The Symposium is always full of interesting topics to learn more about, but it’s important to take a good look at the program and figure out which sessions will provide you with the information and contacts you need to succeed at whatever you are pursuing.  Also, make sure to mention in your application how you will take advantage of the social activities on offer – there are many and they provide a great way to get to know others in a more relaxed atmosphere.

JH: Aside from the obvious financial perks, what benefits do you feel like you received as a grant recipient?  

GB: Meeting other grant recipients and the Steering Committee members at a special little wine and cheese networking session just for the grant recipients. It was great because a lot of the grantees are really starting to develop their careers, and it’s helpful to get advice and new contacts from more experienced individuals within the conservation community.  Plus they host it right at the beginning of the Symposium, so throughout the week you see familiar faces and it helps to get introduced to more delegates later on and make contacts.

JH: Ok, let’s say someone is attending the Symposium for the first time this year, how can they make the most out of their ‘Latornell experience’?

GB:  Best advice? And keep in mind this is advice coming from an introvert … just don’t be shy! It’s really important to put yourself out there in order to get the full experience.  The conference has so much built in programming that’s conducive to talking to people and making new connections in a natural way.  The sessions, meals, and social events are all perfect places to spark a conversation.  In my experience the conservation community is especially nurturing and there is a definite feeling of comradery in the air at Latornell.  I’ve always found that people within this sector are willing to go out of their way to help and to really support each other.

JH: I hear you’ll be coming back to Latornell this year as a session speaker! That’s exciting, tell me more about that.

GB: Yes, I’m definitely excited to attend again this year and to speak! I’ll be presenting about Kawartha Conservation’s ‘BlueScaping’ program, which is all about landscaping urban areas to manage storm water on-site.  I’ll be sharing what’s happened with the program in the past year, and also where it’s headed.  The session I’m speaking in is all about how stewardship initiatives can complement natural system functions.  I think it will be really interesting because we have speakers sharing insights into three different programs at different stages of development: our BlueScaping program which is quite new, one program which is a few years along, and another which has over 20 years history of implementation.  
JH: Thanks so much for filling me in on all of this! It sounds like your session will be really interesting and you’re all set to have another amazing experience at Latornell this year!

Greg Bunker is the Stewardship Outreach Technician at Kawartha Conservation.  He will be presenting about the Conservation Authority’s ‘BlueScaping’ program at Latornell 2016 in session WC2

Jayme Hughes has been the Communications Coordinator for the Latornell Symposium for the past five years, and is also the Marketing & Communications Specialist at Kawartha Conservation.