Over 100 orphaned seedlings of one of the rarest trees in Canada, the Paw Paw, are
in desperate need of adoption. Together, rural landowners and urban gardeners across
southwestern Ontario are stepping in to help, so the 'Paw Paw Parade' (Sept. 16
and 17) can take to the road to bring the seedlings to loving homes.
"This region, the Carolinian Zone of southern Ontario, is a hotspot for biodiversity
in Canada but wild species are disappearing fast. It's like Canada's Amazon," according
to Ben Porchuk, ecologist with Carolinian Canada, an environmental charity that
is organizing the Parade.
Orphaned by the loss of habitat and climate change, Paw Paw is one of 1,500 native
plants and 500 rare species in the Carolinian Zone. Its natural home, the Carolinian
woodlands, has faced decades of devastation.
"The good news is that thousands of landowners want to help! It's an opportunity
for people-power to reverse the trend of wildlife loss." Paw Paw is 'baby food'
for the Zebra Swallowtail butterfly, playing a critical part of their life cycle.
So participating landowners and gardeners will be helping more than just one wild
The Parade will showcase how easy it is to help local wildlife at home. Powered
by electricity, it will travel over 1,200 km from Toronto to Windsor, via Niagara
Falls, Long Point, London, Pinery Provincial Park, Windsor, and Pelee Island. Participants
include farmers, urban gardeners, businesses, municipalities, First Nations, schools,
and community groups. With the aid of volunteers, Porchuk will help them find the
right spots on their land for these special trees. While many of the trees are going
to registered landowners, there will be some given away en route.
The Paw Paw project is part of the group's newest challenge to grow Canada's Biggest
Wildlife Garden "In the Zone" where it is needed the most. The In the Zone program,
in partnership with WWF-Canada, currently connects 4,000+ people growing 17,000+
native plants to save wildlife, protect water and get climate-smart at home. The
partners are challenging community groups and workplaces to help connect 15,000
sites for healthy habitat by 2022.
Wildlife are not the only ones who love Paw Paw. A current trend among smart foragers
(people who eat native plants) is growing them at home to save wild populations
and help the species thrive. Paw Paw is one of the tastiest fruits on the planet,
with hints of mango, banana, and custard; and it is high in many minerals, nutrients
and antioxidants. It is a small tree and each participating landowner will get two,
since they need cross-pollination to produce fruit.
Landowners, volunteers and supporters can join the action through CarolinianCanada.ca
and look for the In the Zone tag when purchasing plants.
"Each property has a unique role to play is saving local wildlife, from butterflies
to owls. Native plants that are essential for local wildlife to survive can be integrated
with existing gardens and other landowner goals. We have a large network of inspired
landowners and gardeners who are taking action and we are excited to see how Canada's
Biggest Wildlife Garden takes shape!"
A Big Picture Strategy
The Carolinian Zone is the most highly threatened ecological region of Canada. Local
habitat is home for one third of Canada's rare wildlife, protects drinking water
for 11 million people, is the backbone of healthy communities for 25% of Canadians
and holds the key to a green future for resilient, climate-smart landscapes.
In the Carolinian Zone we need to double our habitat to reach minimum federal standards
for healthy landscapes that protect air, water and soil. On a landscape that is
95% private and 85% cleared we must engage millions of people in growing healthy
habitat across cultural landscapes. We can only do this by aligning and accelerating
the efforts of hundreds of rural and urban communities.
Growing a Green future
Carolinian Canada Coalition aims to historically reverse habitat loss in the zone
through coordinated action with 300+ leading groups. Our network is one of the largest
and longest-running ecosystem recovery initiatives in Canada working in harmony
with local communities. The Coalition is supported by donations, memberships and
grants from government, corporate and private sources. We advance shared goals through
Communities, landowners and gardeners can 'grow wild' through these multi-partner
- In the Zone, in partnership with World Wildlife Fund Canada helps gardeners and
landowners grow healthy, climate-smart landscapes, everywhere www.inthezonegardens.ca
- Go Wild Grow Wild – a green expo, workshops and on-line Wild Guide connecting thousands
with a love of nature
- Big Picture Collaborative – implementing a shared vision for a green future by connecting
sectors to reverse a centuries-old trend of habitat loss
- Habitat Investment Pilots – a Conservation Impact Bond connecting community, investment,
habitat, landowner and impact leaders to accelerate the growth of healthy landscapes
About Carolinian Canada Coalition
Carolinian Canada is a network of leaders growing healthy landscapes for a green
future with support of the Ontario Trillium Foundation and others who care about
healthy landscapes. Upcoming community workshops are supported by TD Friends of
About World Wildlife Fund Canada
WWF-Canada creates solutions to the environmental challenges that matter most for
Canadians. We work in places that are unique and ecologically important, so that
nature, wildlife and people thrive together. Because we are all wildlife. For more
About Ben Porchuk
Porchuk is a specialist and passionate about local nature solutions on every kind
of property. He works closely with a network of dedicated Landowner Leaders to grow
high-quality habitat on farms and other sites, in harmony with local land uses.
He leads by example; his urban home and garden consists of more than 200 species
of native plants (including seven Paw Paw trees planted over the past 12 years),
which has been a calling card, attracting hundreds of species of wildlife back to
his yard in the city.
Carolinian Canada is a network of leaders growing a green future together. We collaborate
for healthy ecosystems. Our Big Picture strategy enables, connects and tracks thousands
of green leaders to save, steward and seed healthy ecosystems for thriving green
communities. Our shared vision is that communities thrive because of healthy, resilient
landscapes in the Carolinian Zone, Ontario's extraordinary far south.