BC Green Games Guide #1: Habitat Stewardship and Restoration
There are lots of ways you can become an environmental steward. First, what does it mean to be a steward of the environment? Being a steward means protecting and enhancing natural ecosystems. The natural environment provides many ecosystem services that are important for all animals and that can’t be manufactured.
A lot of human activities like deforestation and pollution are negatively affecting environments globally and in our backyard. Together we must work toward sustainable practices in our everyday life, both at home and in the classroom, for a healthier environment. Learning about stewardship and our local environment is a great place-based learning opportunity for students.
So, what can you do to help restore the environment?
There are lots of ways to address different issues facing the environment in your community. It can be as simple as organizing a garbage cleanup of the schoolyard or local park. A lot of garbage ends up where it shouldn’t and can be very harmful to the environment and wildlife. Toxins can leach into soil or water and animals can ingest the garbage. A shoreline cleanup can help in a big way!
Another way to help prevent things from ending up in the environment is to paint yellow fish on storm drains and educate the community about what it means. Storm drains can carry a lot of harmful chemicals from our roads and parking lots into creeks where they negatively affect aquatic animals, like salmon. Participate in the storm drain marking program to help protect and enhance salmon populations. These painted yellow fish remind people that only water should go down the storm drains because all storm drains lead directly to our local creeks. Its also a good opportunity to research and start using products that are safe for the environment, like eco-friendly soaps and sunscreens.
How else can you be a green steward?
There are lots of other ways your school’s Green Team can be a steward of a local creek. The Salmonids in the Classroom program allows your class to raise salmon that are then released into local streams. You’ll learn more about salmon and help local populations, as they are an important keystone species. The Pacific Streamkeepers Federation has great modules that teach how to monitor the health of local streams, a wonderful way to take learning outside and make it hands-on.
Another stewardship action project could involve removing invasive plants and planting native ones instead. Invasive species outcompete native species which reduces biodiversity. A reduction in overall ecosystem biodiversity can result in unstable and vulnerable ecosystems that we rely on for food and other resources. But you can help by removing invasive species and planting a variety of native ones anywhere you can, including your schoolyard and backyard.
What other things can you do in your schoolyard or backyard?
Creating more habitat for animals is another great way to be a steward for the animals in your neighbourhood. It can be hard for animals to find food, water and shelter within cities. Think about greening your school yard by planting more trees or a school garden; this helps with biodiversity and animal habitat. Planting trees also helps mitigate climate change. Planting a pollinator garden is another positive eco-action! Pollinator species are declining, and they play an important role in the growth of the food we eat. Other projects to take on would be building boxes for birds, bats and butterflies to call home. The possibilities are endless.
How will your school take action?
There are so many ways to be an environmental steward! Here are some ideas for your BC Green Games project:
Hold a garbage cleanup
- Clean up your schoolyard or local park, or lead/participate in a Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup.
- Green your schoolyard by planting more trees and creating more habitat for neighbourhood animals.
- Apply for a grant with Tree Canada.
- Be in the running for our new $2500 Climate Action Prize!
Remove invasive species and plant native ones
- Learn more about invasive plant species and help protect ecosystems by pulling out invasive species and planting native ones. Learn more with Invasive Species Council of BC.
Create a pollinator-friendly garden
- Plant a flower garden to help the bees.
- Participate in the Salmonids in the Classroom program.
- Work through The Pacific Streamkeepers Federation’s modules to learn about monitoring and protecting local streams.
- Mark the storm drains in your area to remind the community our roadways empty directly into local streams.
Help neighbourhood animals find a home
- Build bird and bat houses or butterfly boxes.
Educate your classmates and the public
- Put together an educational campaign to teach other students and community members about what you learned and how to get involved.
- If your topic is about climate change or water management you will be in the running for our new $2500 prizes!
Raise money for a conservation organization
- Plan a fun fundraising activity so students can donate the money raised to an environmental or conservation organization.
- Plants and animals have observable features (K)
- Daily and seasonal changes affect all living things (K)
- Curiosity and wonder lead us to new discoveries about ourselves and the world around us (K)
- Living things have features and behaviours that help them survive in their environment (1)
- Healthy communities recognize and respect the diversity of individuals and care for the local environment (1)
- Observable patterns and cycles occur in the local sky and landscape (1)
- Local actions have global consequences, and global actions have local consequences (2)
- Individuals have rights and responsibilities as global citizens (2)
- Living things have life cycles adapted to their environment (2)
- Water is essential to all living things, and it cycles through the environment (2)
- Living things are diverse, can be grouped and interact in their ecosystem (3)
- Indigenous knowledge is passed down through oral history, tradition and collective memory (4)
- Indigenous societies throughout the world value the well-being of the self, the land, spirits and ancestors (4)
- All living things sense and respond to their environment (4)
- Complex global problems require international cooperation to make difficult choices for the future (6)
- Economic self-interest can be a significant cause of conflict among people and governments (6)
- Media sources can both positively and negatively affect our understanding of important events and issues (6)
- Earth and its climate have changed over geological time (7)
- And more!
Core Competency – Social Responsibility
Contributing to community and caring for the environment:
- I contribute to group activities that make my classroom, school, community or natural world a better place.
- I can identify how my actions and the actions of others affect my community and the natural environment and can work to make positive change.
- I can analyze complex social or environmental issues from multiple perspectives. I can take thoughtful actions to influence positive, sustainable change.
Sustainable Development Goals
14 – Life below water
15 – Life on land
Resources and Potential Community Coaches
Sierra Club BC