Community Resilience

Funding level: Up to $50,000


Wetlands play an important role in improving water quality and quantity, and supporting climate change mitigation and adaptation. Despite their value, wetlands continue to be degraded and lost due to habitat loss, fragmentation, pollution and climate change. Wetland losses significantly impact biodiversity and ecosystem services important to human well-being. As the impacts from climate change continue to be realized, we have to maintain natural infrastructure in the form of wetlands to absorb water during major rain events and other extreme weather. In Calgary, 90% of pre-settlement wetlands have been lost. Action is needed by all stakeholders to maintain and restore wetlands in and around Calgary. Tied to this, there is a strong need to better understand the health of Calgary's wetlands, and to foster wetland stewardship activities.

Citizen science is a powerful tool that marries the collection of valuable scientific data with engaging citizens in science and ultimately fostering involvement in important environmental issues. A citizen science approach improves the fluidity of knowledge and democratizes science by enabling the public to participate in information collection, analysis and sharing. Citizen science programming fosters dialogue within a community and builds engagement around a challenge, ultimately improving the diversity of stakeholders engaged in developing solutions. Miistakis Institute and partners developed a citizen science initiative called Call of the Wetland to encourage Calgary's public to visit natural areas and monitor amphibians in wetlands in Calgary. Volunteers participate by surveying wetlands for amphibians at specified wetlands and report their observations via a program smartphone application. During our pilot season, sixty wetlands within Calgary were identified for surveying, and each wetland was visited 9 times during the amphibian season, 250 people downloaded the app, 80 volunteers participated in surveys and 346 surveys were completed. Three different species of amphibian were recorded in Calgary. This program needs to run until 2019 to ensure sufficient data collection to accurately determine amphibian occurrence.

It is known that well-managed wetlands make communities resilient in the event of extreme weather and help to minimize damage from disasters. We are losing wetlands and they need a strong voice in Calgary. During the first season of Call of the Wetland four out of sixty survey wetlands were removed from the program due to impact from construction activities. Determining amphibian presence in wetlands will lend to determining health of wetlands and healthy wetlands are critical to Calgarians.

Call of the Wetland has four key strategies
1. Science: Understand which amphibian species occur in the City of Calgary and where they occur
2. Engagement: Foster a community of citizen scientists that are engaged in biodiversity monitoring and wetland conservation
3. Education: Provide participants with information on importance of biodiversity and wetlands and storm water systems in urban environment.
4. Management: share results of where amphibians are occurring and provide recommendations on variables important to maintenance of healthy amphibian populations.

Together these strategies aim to engage Calgary's public in biodiversity and wetland conservation in the urban environment. Though an experiential learning approach participation in Call of the Wetland will foster support for biodiversity and wetlands. Research has shown that urban green spaces, including wetlands, provide opportunities for citizens to connect with nature, witness ecological processes in action, and potentially become scientifically literate citizens who make informed decisions regarding conservation initiatives and policy.

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Miistakis Institute for the Rockies Inc.

Location: Calgary