Tuesday 29 January 2013

EcoSask News, January 29, 2013


Wildlife Rehab Volunteers, Feb. 2
The Wildlife Rehabilitation Society of Saskatchewan is holding a volunteer orientation on February 2. This will be followed by a presentation on bats and their role in emerging diseases by Dr. Vikram Misra.

Project Wild K-12 Certification, Feb. 2
Register online by January 30 for this hands-on Project Wild Certification course.

Chickadee Pishing, Feb. 2
The Saskatoon Young Naturalists will be attracting birds for a closer look at 1 pm on February 2 at Pike Lake. Call 975-3042 or email saskatoonnaturekids@gmail.com to sign up.

Edible City, Feb. 6 
The Saskatchewan Eco Network will be screening Edible City: Grow the Revolution and a second, shorter film, Permaculture: A Quiet Revolution, at 7 pm, February 6, at the Root Down Workers’ Cooperative. Guests from the Permaculture Research Institute will be on hand to talk about permaculture in Saskatchewan.

Saskatoon Nature Society
The Saskatoon Nature Society’s website provides additional information about the following events:
February 2, 8 am-10:30 pm – Northern Birding Trip to look for Northern Hawk Owls, Great Gray Owls, and songbirds in the northern boreal forest.
February 3, 12-5 pm – Heritage Day cultural and natural history displays, Western Development Museum
February 9, 1-3:30 pm – Weir and City Park Birding – waterfowl at the weir and song birds in the back alleys

Ice Cycle, Feb. 10 
Ice Cycle 2013 is February 10 and includes a winter cycling workshop, a cycling costume contest, and a cycling parade followed by live music and door prizes.

Sustainability Education Research Institute
The Sustainability Education Research Institute, housed in the University of Saskatchewan’s College of Education, hopes to bring together researchers and community groups to examine environmental sustainability. The Institute is the first of its kind in Canada. Issues they hope to address include car sharing, denial of climate change, greenwashing, and incorporating sustainability in the school curriculum.

Waste Minimization Awards
The nomination deadline for the SK Waste Minimization Awards, sponsored by the Saskatchewan Waste Reduction Council, is February 28, 2013.

Interesting Reading 
Conservation photographers combine nature photography, photojournalism and advocacy to draw the public’s attention to environmental issues, but it’s getting harder for them to make a living.

The circular economy - companies can better manage the planet's resources and still make a profit.

Moving things around (including people) accounts for 15% of global carbon emissions. How can we establish a more sustainable shipping and cargo culture?

Must we root out all non-native plants or should we first determine whether they pose a risk or actually make a positive contribution to our changing ecology?

EcoSask News is a weekly round-up of local news and events. Email us if you have items you would like us to include. Additional upcoming events can be found on our Calendar.

You can follow EcoFriendly Sask by liking us on Facebook, following us on Twitter, or by email (top right corner).

Thursday 24 January 2013

SPIN Farming in Uganda: Getting Started

In November 2012, EcoFriendly Sask provided Francis Baita, an AgroEcology student in Kasese, Uganda, with a $500 EcoFriendly Action Grant to help him establish a garden and teach students the basic principles of SPIN farming.

Francis has stayed in touch with us by email, and we’ve been delighted to read about the progress he has made in just a couple of months.

His first challenge was to obtain permission from the municipality for a water connection at the project site. It took some time for him to find drip irrigation tape as well; he finally tracked some down in Kampala, the capital of Uganda.

Francis then connected the water, installed a 1,000-litre water tank on the site, and purchased the irrigation tape. Once these tasks were completed, he fenced in the property to keep out stray animals. The site was very dirty with lots of plastic waste, so they are collecting it into a heap, and the municipality will come and take it away to be recycled.

An agricultural college asked Francis to train 13 students (3 girls and 10 boys) on the basics of urban farming. The students received two days training in SPIN Farming and planted some of the vegetables. Francis then covered the seedlings (as you can see in the picture) as it has been very hot.

We have put Francis in touch with the SPIN Farming network that was co-founded by Wally Satzewich from Saskatoon, and Francis has been invited to join their online SPIN Farming discussion group. We’ll send Francis a copy of SPIN Farming Illustrated, the network’s most recent publication, once it’s available in PDF.

We look forward to further reports from Francis.

Do you have a dream environmental project? Why not apply for an EcoFriendly Action Grant?

Tuesday 22 January 2013

EcoSask News, January 22, 2013


Community Pastures, Jan. 23
PFRA Community Pasture patron representatives will attend an all-pastures meeting in Saskatoon on January 23 at the Sutherland Hall to discuss transition of the PFRA and proposed sale or lease of these lands by the Province of Saskatchewan to individual patron groups. Confirmed speakers include: Lyle Stewart, SK Minister of Agriculture; Darrell Crabbe, Executive Director, Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation; Barry Lowe, Chair, Steering Committee for Association of Manitoba Community Pastures; Mert Taylor, Agriculture Union-PSAC (PFRA managers and riders); and Brad Michael and Krystine Lamotte, FSIN.

Winter Cycling Workshop, Jan. 28
The University of Saskatchewan Students’ Union is hosting a Winter Cycling Workshop on January 28 from 3:30-5 pm in the Roy Romanow Student Council Chamber, Upper Place Riel. Learn how to cycle safely in winter and pick up some tips from avid winter cyclists.

Too Much Garbage & Water
Canada produces twice as much garbage, per person, as Japan and uses nine times more water than Denmark. Individual efforts can make a difference:

Saskatoon CarShare Co-operative
The Saskatoon CarShare Co-operative has secured $10,000 in funding from Affinity Credit Union and $4,000 from the Saskatchewan Co-operative Association to help develop their business and marketing plans.

Turn It Down
Lowering the temperature of your house at night by just 1°C can save you up to 5% on your heating bills. Plus you’ll sleep better and use less energy.

We’re not doing too badly in Saskatchewan, but we can do better – let’s beat BC and the Maritimes. (Photo Credit: Nest Energy)

Energy & Climate Change
Battling Canada’s Carbon Addiction, a recent article in Alternatives Journal, provides links to a wealth of resource materials on progressing towards a low-carbon future in Canada as well as an interview with Dr. Bernard Fleet.

A coalition of US academic researchers is preparing to lead a national effort to study the health effects of fracking.

New Jersey has become a leader in solar energy capacity and is turning contaminated land into solar farms.

Urban Life
Only 25% of primary school children in Great Britain walk to school, which is a shame as they miss out on an opportunity to chat with their friends, observe their surroundings, learn to take care of themselves, and get some exercise.

Bicycles, pedestrian-friendly plazas and walkways, new bus lines, and parking meters are combining to transform parts of Mexico City from a traffic nightmare to a commuter's paradise.

Whole Foods’ goal of long-term sustainability includes local produce, less packaging, and alternate energy. Will they also consider rooftop farms, longer building lifespans, and more stores in dense, walkable neighbourhoods?

Can lighting  help transform Riversdale? Pedestrian-friendly lighting and light displays have certainly made a difference in Philadelphia.

EcoSask News is a weekly round-up of local news and events. Email us if you have items you would like us to include. Additional upcoming events can be found on our Calendar.

You can follow EcoFriendly Sask by liking us on Facebook, following us on Twitter, or by email (top right corner).

Friday 18 January 2013

10 Tips for Successful EcoFriendly Action Grants

“Be the change you want to see in the world.” Mahatma Gandhi 

Emmanuel Village Community Garden
It’s easy to be discouraged when we see governments and corporations making bad decisions that damage the environment. But each of us helps to shape the future through our actions. We can make a difference. 

Look around you. How can you protect our local environment? Your project could involve studying and protecting wildlife or native plants. Maybe your youth group wants to adopt a local park or build bird boxes. Maybe you want to promote transportation or energy alternatives. You may have a water conservation or gardening project.

You can be an Eco Pioneer by making our little piece of the world a better place for all living things.

Grant Application Tips 
EcoFriendly Sask provides small grants of up to $500 to support local projects that will benefit the environment. Here are 10 tips to help you prepare a successful grant application.

TRoutreach Saskatchewan
  1. Tell us who you are. Write it as if we know nothing about you and/or your organization. 
  2. Describe your project. Be specific and provide details. What will you do? When? How? 
  3. Show enthusiasm. Demonstrate your energy and passion for protecting the environment. 
  4. Tell us what you hope to achieve. Describe how your project will protect or promote the local environment. What will be the benefits? 
  5. Tell us how you will use the grant money. What are your main expenses? What are your other sources of revenue? 
  6. Do your homework. Take a look at our website and review past grant recipients. 
  7. Let us know how we can find out more about you and your project. Do you have a website or a Facebook page? What about newspaper articles? 
  8. Don’t be afraid to ask for more information. Send us an email; we’ll be happy to answer your questions. 
  9. Stay in touch. If we ask questions or request more information, respond in a timely fashion. 
  10. Successful applicants are strongly encouraged to provide updates and a final report and/or photographs. (You’re unlikely to receive future funding if you don’t.) 

Both individuals and groups are eligible for EcoFriendly Action Grants. You do not need to have charitable status. Applications are received and awarded on a continuous basis. New applicants will have precedence over people who have received funding in the past.

See also: 
Who is EcoFriendly Sask? 
EcoFriendly Action Grants
EcoFriendly Action Heroes 2012

Tuesday 15 January 2013

EcoSask News, January 15, 2013


Reflections of Alaska & Yukon, Jan. 17
Leslie Tuchek, an ecological educator, will share her stories of the wildlife and spectacular scenery in Alaska and the Yukon at the Saskatoon Nature Society’s meeting at 7:30 pm, January 17, in Room 106, Biology Building, U of S.

Northeast Swale Film, Jan. 20
Drop by the Meewasin Valley Centre from 2-4 pm on January 20 to watch a short video about the Northeast Swale.

Native Plants, Feb. 8-9
You can now register online for the Native Plant Society of Saskatchewan’s annual conference on Native Plants - Native People. Candace Savage will be reading from her latest, award-winning book, A Geography of Blood, and there will be speakers on establishing a native plant garden, ethnobotany, and various First Nations projects. EcoFriendly Sask will be there.

NatureCity Festival, May 25-31 
We’re looking forward to Saskatoon’s first NatureCity Festival, May 25-31, celebrating blossoms on the Saskatoon bushes and reconnecting with nature. Wild About Saskatoon is looking for volunteers. We’re doing our part by sharing photographs and providing financial support with our first EcoFriendly Action Grant for 2013.

Wildlife Rehab. Course, Mar. 30-31
There’s a real need for wildlife rehabilitators in Saskatoon as the number of animals coming into care is increasing every year. The International Wildlife Rehabilitation Council is offering an Intensive Basic Wildlife Rehabilitation Course at the University of Saskatchewan on March 30 and 31. You can register online.

Interesting Reading
The greenest office building in the world is about to open in Seattle.

Natural sounds (birds chirping, frogs croaking) are an under-recognized part of the nature that surrounds us.

Suburban sprawl could destroy up to 34 million acres of US forests. 

Canada's environmental law changes were requested by the oil and gas industry.

By 2030, water may be harder to acquire than oil – let’s plug those leaky pipes!

Are Lesser Prairie Chickens at risk because of the oil industry and wind power?

A stackable, foldable electric car designed for the ideal city of the future.

Passing it along – because one person’s trash is another person’s treasure.

EcoSask News is a weekly round-up of local news and events. Email us if you have items you would like us to include. Additional upcoming events can be found on our Calendar.

You can follow EcoFriendly Sask by liking us on Facebook, following us on Twitter, or by email (top right corner).

Thursday 10 January 2013

Redberry Lake Biosphere Reserve

A parcel of land can serve so many different purposes and has so many different inhabitants. We tend to think first of how we as humans use the land – for farming, ranching, playing, and residing. But the land is also home to many, many native plants and animals. The dirt itself is the product of billions of years of geological changes.

Biosphere reserves are ecologically significant regions that promote sustainability and conservation by engaging all community stakeholders. The needs of all – from birds and plants to farmers and tourists – are taken into consideration, as well as the needs of future generations.

There are 598 biosphere reserves spread over 117 countries in the World Network of Biosphere Reserves. The Redberry Lake Biosphere Reserve is the only reserve in Saskatchewan, and it’s a wonderful place to visit.

The Land and its People
The Reserve covers 112,200 hectares in the Prairie pothole region – small ponds and marshy areas carved out by the retreating glaciers. At its heart is Redberry Lake, a saline lake that was formed from a huge chunk of ice left behind by the glaciers.

The lake is one of only 10 nesting sites for the American White Pelican and the Piping Plover, and it’s on the migration route for the Whooping Crane, North America’s rarest bird. Approximately 1,000 people, primarily of Ukrainian origin, live in the area, which includes the Town of Hafford.

Community Decision-Making 
There was a plan in the 1980s to turn the area around the lake into a recreational resort, but community members stepped in and said no, that’s not a good idea.

At first, the focus was on protecting the pelicans as they were a threatened species at that time, but gradually the project expanded to include all aspects of sustainable, shared land use.

The community remains at the heart of the biosphere reserve. Reserve employees don’t set rules. They simply make recommendations and explain best practices.

Programs and Activities 
The programs at Redberry Biosphere Reserve address the needs of local residents, visitors, educational institutions, and wildlife.

One of their main projects is the Agri-Environmental Group Plan, which encourages farmers and producers to implement beneficial land management practices. Funds are available through the Canada-Saskatchewan Farm Stewardship Program to offset the cost incurred in changing certain farming practices. Started in 2006, the program has already brought $4 million into the region.

Building on previous community initiatives, the members of the Redberry Lake Biosphere Regional Planning Initiative have been working with a local planning firm to develop the final draft of a comprehensive planning framework to guide growth and development over the next 25-plus years. This includes the development of a volunteer district planning commission, a comprehensive District Plan and Official Community Plans, zoning bylaws, and reference maps for each of the participating member municipalities.

A complementary process – known as Land and Infrastructure Resiliency Assessment (LIRA) – includes the development of flood modelling tools and maps that will be incorporated into the district planning framework to help guide development in order to mitigate the potential for flooding. This program is being developed by the Science and Technology Branch of Agriculture Canada with guidance from the local stakeholders and technical group who make up the Regional Planning Initiative.

The reserve is partnered with the School of Environment and Sustainability at the University of Saskatchewan, and groups of students come out on a regular basis to assess the land, identify plants, and talk to local residents. Students from Hafford Central School come out to do water monitoring and creek dipping.

Redberry collaborates with the Saskatchewan Watershed Authority and the Water Security Agency to monitor the level of the lake. As part of the network of Migratory Bird Sanctuaries and Important Bird Areas, they monitor the local bird population.

The Reserve is always looking for ways to reach out and involve the local community. This past summer, they set up a Community Farmers’ Market in Hafford. They offer summer programs and, in 2012, hired a summer student to organize a weekly kids’ club. A recent winter program took kids and families out on snowshoes around the lake.

One of the next projects that Susanne Abe, the Reserve’s Communications Coordinator, would like to develop is a map of the biosphere and its surrounding area to show visitors all the things there are to do in the area (from hiking trails to Ukrainian churches). “Sometimes people say there’s not much to do in Saskatchewan, but that’s not true,” Susanne says.

International Connections
Susanne’s father is the Executive Director of the Rhőn Biosphere Reserve in Germany, so when Susanne and her husband, Thomas, decided to spend a year in Canada, they chose to volunteer at a couple of Canadian biosphere reserves.

Susanne had spent four years in communications, so when she arrived at Redberry in October, 2011, she set about updating the Reserve’s website with IT help from her husband. They stayed to experience a Saskatchewan winter and have ended up settling in indefinitely. “We’ve bought a house and really like it here,” Susanne says.

The Rhőn Biosphere Reserve is well established and successfully integrates conservation and economic development. The area includes 10,000 kilometres of hiking trails, including a long-distance trail that runs for almost 180 km. 250 local food producers carry the “Quality of the Biosphere Reserve Rhone” trademark that encourages people to support local food producers.

Since 2006, the Redberry Lake, Charlevoix, and Georgian Bay Biosphere Reserves in Canada have collaborated with the Rhőn Biosphere Reserve to establish “quality economies” in sustainable tourism, agriculture, and conservation, supported by research and monitoring. The first joint project is a trilingual brochure. Partners in the World Network showcases each reserve’s land and activities and promotes tourism to the sites.

Redberry Lake Biosphere Reserve also attracts researchers and visitors from other countries, such as Ukraine, Japan and Australia, who study this area as a “best practice.” In 2013, a graduate student from the University of Grenoble, France, will join the team at Redberry Lake as an intern for four months.

Summer or winter, Redberry Lake offers a wealth of recreational opportunities. There are hiking trails, water activities, opportunities for skiing and snowshoeing, and the Research and Education Centre has displays and informational material. Redberry Lake’s website provides a wealth of information about the region, with a quarterly newsletter, publications, and research reports.

Photo Credit: Redberry Lake Biosphere Reserve

Monday 7 January 2013

EcoSask News, January 8, 2013


Film Night, Jan. 9
The Saskatchewan Eco Network is showing Powerful: Energy for Everyone at 7 pm on January 9 at Root Down Cooperative Café. Mark Bigland-Pritchard will provide a short presentation about Green Energy Project Saskatchewan after the film.

Saskatoon Nature Society 
Join the Saskatoon Nature Society on the following bird walks:
January 13, 2-4 pm – Sanatorium and Riverbank Hike
January 19, 9-11 am – Montgomery Place Bird Walk

Energy-Efficient Homes, Jan.15
Ronn LePage will discuss Smart Green: Integrated Designs for Homes at 8:30 am, January 15, at Peter D’s Restaurant. Advance registration is recommended (ahorvath@sk.cagbc.org).

Fighting Climate Change, January 15 
Megan Van Buskirk attended the United Nations Climate Negotiations in 2010, 2011, and 2012. She’ll be speaking at 7 pm on January 15 at the Frances Morrison Library about the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and the most recent discussions in Qatar. (co-sponsored by the Saskatchewan Environmental Society and Saskatoon Public Library)

Swift Fox, Jan. 16 
Shelley Pruss, Parks Canada, will speak on The Swift Fox: Back Home (Again)! on January 16 in Swift Current as part of the SK PCAP Native Prairie Speaker Series. Presentations are normally available online as well.

SOEEA AGM, Jan. 19
The SK Outdoor and Environmental Education Association is holding its Annual General Meeting on January 19 at Manitou Springs Mineral Spa. Register by January 15.

Gardeners’ Escape, Jan. 26
Join the Prairie Master Gardeners at their Escape Winter Workshop on January 26. Darryl Fehr of Little Tree Nursery will talk about the Urban Forest, and Branimir Gjetvaj will give a workshop on Flower & Macro Photography.

Native Plants – Native People, Feb. 8 & 9
Native Plants – Native People is the theme of the Native Plant Society of Saskatchewan’s annual meeting on February 8 and 9 at the German Concordia Club in Saskatoon. The conference will provide insight into how our natural world is woven into Aboriginal culture, both in a historical and contemporary context, and what our society today can learn from this.

Prairie Conservation & Endangered Species, Feb. 19-22
The Alberta Prairie Conservation Forum and the Alberta Society of Professional Biologists are hosting the 10th Prairie Conservation and Endangered Species Conference from February 19-22 in Red Deer.

Beaver Creek
The old Meewasin skating rink shack has been moved to the Beaver Creek Conservation Area. Once it’s refurbished, it will host programs in cross-country skiing, photography and art classes, and interpretive theatre.

Interesting Reading
Improved pedestrian access spurs economic development in a California community
Hot bodies heat buildings in Minneapolis, Paris and Stockholm
Profile of Lorne Scott, SK conservationist and farmer
Are we prepared to change our lifestyles in order to save the environment?

EcoSask News is a weekly round-up of local news and events. Email us if you have items you would like us to include. Additional upcoming events can be found on our Calendar.

You can follow EcoFriendly Sask by liking us on Facebook, following us on Twitter, or by email (top right corner).

Friday 4 January 2013

EcoFriendly Action Heroes 2012

In 2012, EcoFriendly Sask began providing grants to help individuals or groups to protect and promote the local environment. It was exciting to review the applications as they came in, and we were delighted to be able to provide $11,850 to support 19 different projects.

The Meadow Lake Junior Forest Wardens take responsibility for an annual clean-up at Pagan Lake. They clean up storm damage, install new signs, groom the trails, and build and install bird and bat boxes.

Delila Jahn-True wrote a book to encourage people to recycle waste. She read from her book, Advice between Kingdoms – How the Hays moved Trash Mountain, at Craik Eco Village’s Environment Day event.

The Eco-Warriors Club, organized by the Friends of the Royal Saskatchewan Museum, was a new initiative for kids ages 9-12, combining field trips and speakers.

The new Emmanuel Village Community Garden is so popular that they are already expanding it. An EcoFriendly Action Grant paid for compost and manure for new garden plots.

Whitespace Initiatives is developing online organizational tools for Out of Your Tree.

Francis Baita is working with young people in Uganda to develop a vegetable garden using SPIN farming techniques.

The Native Plant Society of Saskatchewan received a $1000 sponsorship for their 2012 annual conference.

The Saskatchewan Eco-Network received $500 to support the 2012 Environmental Film Festival.

EcoFriendly Sask sponsored two groups’ Park(ing) Day activities – The Stall Gallery and Our Saskatoon.

We provided Living Sky Wildlife Rehabilitation with $2000 to help with their animal rescue operations.

TRoutreach Saskatchewan received two grants to assist with their fisheries research.

Natural Habitat
Saskatoon Nature Society received a grant to help sponsor Swale of A Day on June 10. It poured with rain all day long, but 40 members of the public, including two City Councillors, visited the Northeast Swale and the event received excellent media coverage.

The Upper Souris Watershed Association prepared and aired 18 30-second radio ads to increase public awareness of sustainable water supply.

Here’s one example: “Canadian adults use an average of 329 litres of water/day. Only 10% of water is used in the kitchen for drinking, cooking and washing dishes. About 65% of water is used indoors in the bathroom. Water use dramatically increases in the summer when half to three quarters of treated water is used to water lawns and gardens.” 

Alternative Transportation 
Saskatoon Cycles received two grants to assist them in taking the Bike Valet to a greater number of community events.

We donated $1500 to the Core Neighbourhood Youth Co-op’s Bike Power & Bike Laundry project on Small Change Fund.

The Saskatchewan Environmental Society received $1500 for their Energy Awareness Saskatchewan project on Small Change Fund.

Congratulations to all our 2012 EcoFriendly Action Heroes. Keep up the good work. We look forward to providing financial support for more Eco Heroes in 2013.

See also: 
EcoFriendly Action Grants
Who is EcoFriendly Sask?