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OPG Regional Biodiversity Program

 OPG Regional Biodiversity Program

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Monitoring OPG's Marshes in the Northwest

In a sprawling marshland covered with tall grasses, cattails and water-loving shrubs, the tiny boreal chorus frog offers big clues about its habitat. Changes in the chirpy frog’s behaviour can signal potential threats to the lush home the wee amphibian shares with other wildlife and plants.

A Northern Leopard frog
A Boreal Chorus frog
​That's why OPG has been closely watching the frog, along with other amphibians and reptiles living in the marshes of our Northwest Operations. With the diligent work of an external ecologist, Dan Gregory, the area now has 10 years of data from its marshes – 450 acres at Atikokan Generating Station (GS) and 68 acres at Thunder Bay GS.
 
Referred to as the Marsh Monitoring Program (MMP), the study tracked trends and changes in those marshes. After 10 years, the results are positive. There have been no major concerns to amphibian populations. If there were, the sites were prepared to look at any impact their operations may be having and make changes if required.
 
OPG’s first priority in monitoring the Thunder Bay and Atikokan marshes was to keep them healthy. Above and beyond that protection, the data has contributed to broader environmental initiatives in the province.
 
For example, Bird Studies Canada incorporates the results to their marsh monitoring throughout the Great Lakes basin of Ontario and the United States. Data and plant specimens were also submitted to the University of Toronto Mississauga Herbarium to add to their collections, which help facilitate biodiversity studies of plants from across the province.
 
Recognition for biodiversity efforts
 
The MMP was one of the major reasons why OPG’s Northwest Operations received its Conservation Certification from the Wildlife Habitat Council. The certification sets the standard for corporate conservation actions by recognizing meaningful wildlife habitat management and conservation education programs. Northwest Operations was part of a pilot program to revamp the certification, leading the way for other organizations striving to meet the new standard of biodiversity excellence.
 
Photos courtesy of ecologist Dan Gregory.
 
 
OPG Regional Biodiversity Program
 
OPG recognizes that our effects on nature do not stop at the boundaries of our facilities, nor should our efforts to protect and restore nature. In accordance with OPG’s Environmental Policy, we work with our community partners to support regional ecosystems and biodiversity though science-based habitat stewardship.
 
OPG’s Regional Biodiversity Program is strategically focused on funding efforts that contribute to the protection and restoration of a natural heritage system of habitat cores, and corridors across Ontario (off of OPG property). Through this program, we fund woodland, wetland, grassland, lakes and rivers, and urban biodiversity projects. Generally, these projects are focused on:
 
  • Restoring or creating habitats for terrestrial and aquatic species in decline;
  • Enhancing the resilience of habitats and ecosystems to better cope with increasing threats, including climate change and invasive species; and
  • Enhancing critical ecosystem services, such as flood attenuation or water quality improvement.