Meet One of the Experts Who Monitor Our Watershed

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There are many aspects of the local natural environment that need to be managed, monitored and maintained to ensure it is protected for future generations. CVC’s Laura Timms, Senior Specialist, Natural Heritage Management, is a local leader in environmental protection and she shares her experience managing plants and animals in the Credit River Watershed.

Meet the Expert – Laura Timms

What is natural heritage management?

Natural heritage management (NHM) can be broken down into two parts. First, you can think of natural heritage as all the plants, animals, habitats and natural features like cliffs and ponds. Second, the management part refers to the actions that we can take to influence the maintenance, restoration and enhancement of those plants, animals and habitats.

White trillium
This is a white trillium. There are more than 1,400 plant species in the Credit River Watershed.

What does your team do?

I work with an incredibly talented team at CVC. Together, we use the best available science to inform conservation of the plant and animal species found in the Credit River Watershed. We create tools, guidelines and strategies for the management of plants and animals and their habitats. We also do research and field work so we can make recommendations about management practices.

Some examples of our work include figuring out which species are locally rare, identifying which forested areas in the watershed are the most vulnerable to climate change and working to protect birds by reducing the number of bird-window collisions.

I also love insects and co-coordinate CVC’s annual Butterfly Blitz citizen science program.

Group of people standing by a tent outside
Participants at the third annual Butterfly Blitz.

Why are insects important?

Insects are “the little things that run the world”, as the late E.O. Wilson said. There are way more insect species than any other kind of animal and they do so many important jobs. Insects:

  • Pollinate plants
  • Spread seeds around
  • Filter water
  • Help break down dead plants and animals
  • Provide natural pest control
  • Feed other animals
  • Are beautiful and interesting creatures!

What is your favourite insect and why?

That’s a hard one! I used to say that parasitoid wasps were my favourite kind of insect. Parasitoid wasps attack other insects, laying their eggs in or on top of their hosts and then consuming them from the inside out. Parasitoids have fascinating and gruesome life histories and are useful in pest control. Now I’m more likely to say that butterflies and lady beetles are my favourite. Both groups are full of beautiful species that are easy to identify. They’re great groups to work with when you’re engaging the public in insect conservation.

This is a monarch butterfly. There are more than 100 butterfly species in Ontario. Photo credit: Melissa Lai

How can the public support NHM?

Managing the natural features of the Credit River Watershed is hard but rewarding work. We’re grateful for the support from watershed communities. Here a few ways to get involved that will help our work:

  • Become a citizen scientist and learn more about butterflies by joining this year’s Butterfly Blitz.
  • Join a local naturalist club to learn more about the plants and animals in your area through talks, hikes and other events.
  • Make observations of plants and animals you see in the watershed using your smartphone or camera and add them to the online platform called iNaturalist.
  • Check out our website to learn how to get involved in events and activities.
  • Work with us to green your property.
  • Consider a donation to the CVC Foundation.

The work we do helps ensure that the ecological function, health and resiliency of the watershed can be maintained and enhanced.

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