OUR MISSION: ACER supports communities, government agencies and corporations in taking action to reduce biodiversity loss and strengthen climate resilience by increasing and monitoring urban and riparian zone forest canopy.

ACER’s History

Overview of ACER

The Association for Canadian Educational Resources (ACER) is a charitable organization founded in 1987 with the initial goal to create more Canadian-centric scientific educational materials and activities for students of all ages. Over the last 35 plus years ACER has done so much more, working to educate communities on the importance of environmental stewardship and support communities in taking science-based action to reduce biodiversity loss and become more resilient to the impacts of climate change, with a specific focus on trees because of their crucial role in our environment. ACER’s tree planting, measuring and monitoring initiatives in both urban and riparian zones continue to help make communities greener, healthier and more resilient in the midst of the current climate crisis.

Our Impact*

  • People: 10’s of thousands of students, teachers, volunteers and community participants engaged!
  • Trees: 11,000+ planted with 10% monitored and data collected, where possible
  • Go Global (GG): 19 one-hectare biodiversity monitoring plots established
  • Planting For Change (P4C): 70 Ontario schools and still growing!
  • Riparian Rangers (RR): 14 Ontario conservation authority partnerships
  • Interns: 150+ (UTM and Sheridan College, Ontario)
  • Summer Students: 100+ as part of Canada Summer Jobs program
  • Community and cultural groups/organizations: 100’s of partnerships!

     *As of January 2024


ACER and Biodiversity

ACER is a leader in long-term biodiversity monitoring in Ontario.

As a result of the Rio de Janeiro international conference, a biodiversity convention was signed and the Smithsonian Institution was commissioned to develop protocol to inventory, then monitor, forests using one-hectare plots. Canada adopted the Biodiversity convention and has now 80 plots using Smithsonian protocol. ACER with a variety of partners, established many of these plots across Southern and Central Ontario.

Using internationally recognized Smithsonian protocols, we have established one-hectare monitoring  plots with a variety of community partners at 18 sites in southern Ontario.  Within the one-hectare plots, all trees having a diameter breast height (DBH) of 4 cm or more are measured for size, height and health. Labels are attached to the trees for future reference. The tree data are entered into a standard format report (excel) and published on our website.

In 1996 ACER received funding from Environment Canada Action 21 to establish sites and develop resources to undertake community-based, long-term monitoring of biodiversity in our forest ecosystems in a standardized, scientifically-sound manner, using national protocols to track changes in biodiversity. Since then, ACER has established many other community-based one hectare forest monitoring sites across Ontario that are maintained by scientists, communities and volunteers.

In 2002, ACER materials were part of Environment Canada’s presentation on biodiversity at a world conference in Johannesburg that celebrated the tenth anniversary of Rio de Janeiro achievements.

Our work has been recognized by the scientific community and prestigious agencies with a mandate in the area of conservation:
✓ ACER’s work is posted on www.canada-biodiversity.ca alongside material from Environment Canada scientists. Six of 14 posters on the site contain ACER data and are currently at the Narobi conference in Kenya.
✓ ACER’s work cited in publications from Environment Canada.
✓ Internships provided as partner with Carolinian Canada Coalition and U of Waterloo published research work in one-hectare forest sites and riparian protocols.
✓ Humber Youth Stewardship Program-involving city youth-at-risk in summer employment to remove invasive and non-native species from ravine sites along the Humber River, inventory remaining native species and lead community planting.
✓ Agency recognition from the Niagara Escarpment Commission, Environment Canada and Health Canada.
✓ Support from University of Toronto (Scarborough) in May 2010 for a post-graduate internship program


ACER’s Early Accomplishments

The tools and equipment for doing tree identification, measurement and labeling have been packaged into a BIOBAG that is available for purchase for individuals or groups participating in the work.  To support the work, and to provide educational messages, we have:
✓ Developed website www.acer-acre.org and online data input system
✓Produced Climate Change in Context, on-line for everyone and  CD for use by teachers to introduce Climate Change (contract to Meteorological Services Ontario)
✓ Produced Solar UV in Our World posters, booklet, CD and posted on-line for teachers across the curriculum (contract to Environment Canada)
✓ Designed and implemented “ Let’s Plant, Measure and Mulch” experimental planting
✓ Held a one-day conference “Changing Our Landscape- How Much is Too Much?” One-hundred people shared information and learned about measurement techniques.
✓ Designed and implemented Our Schoolyard – Measuring Our Resources for teachers and students.
✓ Held summer institutes to train and inform teachers on measurement techniques.  The number attended around 2 dozen teachers and organization representatives.
✓ Designed and implemented Our Schoolyard – Planting for Change in six Ontario schools. (EcoAction)
✓ Developed website www.measureup.ca with forums for students and teachers.
✓ Designed biodiversity climate change experimental planting plot to measure success of 2157 trees ( 76 species) planted and measured annually by students.
✓ Designed and implemented with seven agencies – Humber Youth Stewardship over the summers of 2008 and 2009.
✓ Trained teams for Conservation Authorities (CA’s) – Toronto Region and Lake Simcoe
✓ Held workshops at conferences STAO (Science Teachers Association of Ontario), OSEE (Ontario Science and Environment Educators), COEO (Council of Outdoor Educators of Ontario), OTF (Ontario Teachers’ Federation),  EcoBuzz, OISE (Ontario Institute for Studies in Education).
✓ Carried out demonstration plantings annually at Downsview Park (Toronto) on Earth Days  as part of the community mass plantings to track success of planting.
✓ Made presentation at / for other organizations eg. York U, CCC, Rotary Clubs, GLS
✓ Sponsored scientific posters (short papers) and training at International Climate Change and Biodiversity Conference as invited guest of Environment Canada in Panama in 2008.