Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Insights From A Past Grant Recipient, By Bernadeta Szmudrowska

"From November 15-17, 2016, I had the honour of attending the Latornell Conservation Symposium thanks to the support of the Latornell Three Day Grant. As a recipient, the grant provided me the opportunity to participate, network and exchange knowledge with like-minded conservation professionals. Furthermore, attending the symposium allowed me to apply my educational background, as well as reconnect with past classmates, professors and coworkers.
The presentations delivered by the keynote speakers were substantive, engaging, and inspired the audience about the possibilities of green infrastructure implementation to enhance our watersheds. The forum enabled attendees to network, discuss and reflect upon the various challenges and opportunities pertaining to green infrastructure in Ontario.
Attending the Latornell Conservation Symposium was a priceless experience and has helped me feel more confident about networking and sharing knowledge with others. If you are interested in applying for the symposium grant, I recommend working closely with colleagues so that they may give you advice and help refine important details to include in the grant application. I also recommend preparing the grant application well in advance to allow for the time necessary to make modifications and improvements.
The opportunity to attend the Symposium as a grant recipient allowed me to surround myself with environmental professionals that have devoted their lives to the type of conservation work I enjoy and admire. Participating in 2016, attending the sessions and networking with professionals led me to a job opportunity in the Integrated Water Management department at Credit Valley Conservation Authority.
By spending an intense three days at the Symposium learning about conservation challenges, new research developments and techniques, and participating in innovative idea sharing, you will make new professional connections, and you never know who you are going to meet and where those associations will lead you in the future.
Thank you Latornell Conservation Symposium Steering Committee for giving me the opportunity to participate in the 2016 symposium".

Bernadeta Smudrowska

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Take Us To Your Leaders – Latornell Leadership Award Nominations Wanted

We’re very lucky in the environmental sector. We’re surrounded by more than our fair share of committed and passionate colleagues and volunteers tackling some of the biggest environmental problems facing Ontario. They are monitoring conditions, building the science, developing strategies, and spreading the word.

They’re on the frontlines of flooding, stewardship and biodiversity protection. They’re working with swans, turtles, frogs and fish. And, many hours are spent by both professionals and volunteers teaching kids and teenagers as well as mentoring young professionals in the field.

These professionals and volunteers are the building blocks for healthy watersheds and we feel it’s important that our conservation community recognize their efforts with the annual Latornell Leadership Award.

We’ve been recognizing our Leaders and Pioneers at the Latornell Conservation Symposium since 1999. Their ranks include professional and volunteer biologists, educators, ecologists, scientists, interpreters, watershed managers, birders and photographers.

Our oldest recipient is Lou Wise, who - well into his 90s - was still flying over and photographing disappearing landscapes in order to promote greater stewardship. Our youngest is Scott Gillingwater, a species at risk herpetologist whose work includes some of the longest term research in Canada on the spiny shoftshell, blandings and spotted turtles, queensnake and other declining reptile species.

The Latornell award recipients have come from all corners of the province and have been nominated by Conservation Authorities, Ministries, nonprofits, businesses and volunteer groups.

We value the work these professionals and volunteers are doing and we want to thank them. But we need you to tell us who they are. The deadline for nominating someone for the 2017 Latornell Leadership Award is June 23, 2017. You can find all the information and nomination forms on the Latornell website.

Help us to find and thank our next Latornell Leaders.

This blog post contributed by Jane Lewington, Conservation Ontario, Latornell Steering Committee

Monday, 24 April 2017

Latornell Mentorship and ELB Field N' Meal Day

Are you a budding young professional and still waiting to meet that person who will inspire you, ignite a spark in you, or help you open that crucial first door for yourself as you embark upon a long and fruitful career path?

Maybe you have been in the field for a while. Think back; did somebody teach you something, take a chance on you, or share with you something invaluable: their time? Perhaps they shared their experience. Imagine being given the opportunity to do that for a newcomer to your profession. Would you seize such an opportunity if it presented itself? As someone who has benefited personally from the rich legacy of Art Latornell, I know that he would have, and now I would like to do the same.

Four years ago, we launched the Latornell Mentorship Program. Mentorship has always been a common thread running throughout all Latornell Symposia. Since the first event was held in 1993 hundreds of personal and professional connections have been forged amongst dedicated conservationists working within the sector. Indeed; the Latornell logo itself depicts both a tree - symbolic of conservation and the environment – and within it, the silhouettes of a young professional listening to what appears to be a more experienced mentor. Personally, I consider the tree to also represent knowledge, and as I transition from the left to right side of this image over the course of my own career, I place hope in the idea that this tree will bear the fruits of wisdom for me to share with successive young professionals.

In the spirit of Art Latornell – our conference namesake – we strive to provide young professionals in the conservation and environmental sector with career networking and mentorship opportunities. We welcome partnerships with external groups that share our overarching goals and passion for youth professional development.

We are excited to announce our upcoming Field N’ Meal Day, a joint effort between the Latornell Mentorship team and the Emerging Leaders for Biodiversity (ELB). It will feature free food, a guided tour of some local pond restoration projects, and fantastic networking opportunities for the full spectrum of career professionals.

What: Latornell Mentorship and ELB Field N’ Meal Day. Guided tour, FREE BBQ, and great networking!
Where: Terra Cotta Conservation Area (14452 Winston Churchill Blvd, Terra Cotta, ON)
When: Sunday, June 11th, 2017. 2:00 – 6:00 pm (approx.)
Why: To meet great, like-minded professionals and to build bridges throughout the conservation and environmental community!
Who Should Come: Anyone interested in the environmental, conservation or related sectors
How Much: Zip. Zero. Zilch. Absolutely free.

While the event is completely free, we do ask that you pre-register by June 4th so that we can make sure we have enough food! Registration can be done through the following link:

We hope that you will recognize and seize this opportunity for what it is: a chance to ignite a spark; a chance to grow; a chance to bear fruit. See you on June 11th.

Yours in Conservation,
Bill Trenouth

Bill Trenouth is a Water Resources Specialist at Credit Valley Conservation

Monday, 27 March 2017

Sharing the Wealth

One of the best things to come out of Latornell is the sharing of information. In our conference surveys, delegates tell us that when they're back at the office, they share new tools, techniques and strategies for natural resources management that they heard about at the conference, and often incorporate changes based on this new information.

But more than just the learning from the sessions, Latornell offers the opportunity to start new collaborations. When you consider that our audience is about 40% Conservation Authority staff, 10% students, 13% consulting, 13% Province and 9% NGOs, Latornell provides a forum for practitioners, students, academics, government, and non-government organizations across Ontario to, network. How many LinkedIn requests do you get after the conference?

However, sharing information is easier said than done, when we return to our work and are not the originators of the information. At CVC we debated ways and means of sharing, including running a mini-Latornell with the CVC presentations given at the conference. Given that CVC often has many presentations in the program we could be looking at a half day or full day of presentations which is a bit too much additional time.

One of our staff developed a conference report-back form to document key messages and links to resources. It is valuable but lacks the interactive component and relies on the audience making time to read it.

The most successful method we have found is our “CVC Presents” – a series of lunchtime seminars where Latornell (and other) presentations are given again to a varied audience. Here we have the opportunity to hear the whole presentation, ask questions and staff can attend during their lunch hour and then get back to work. Information overload does not occur and the cost remains reasonable.

How do you share? Tell us what works for you.

This blog post contributed by Deb Martin-Downs, CAO Credit Valley Conservation, Latornell Steering Committee Member

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.

Blog Post from Steve Hounsell, Chair, Ontario Biodiversity Council

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