The Humber Youth Stewardship (HYS) project is a successful organizational partnership initiative created in 2008 to maintain and enhance natural areas in the Humber River Valley. The partners, led by ACER and the City of Toronto, engage local youth in the restoration and monitoring of natural areas.
The goals for the project are to train students to remove invasive species in a selected area, to carry out a base line inventory of remaining native trees and to lead a community restoration planting. The area chosen has native trees that could thrive with reduced competition. Measurement at a later date is recommended to document changes in growth rate.
Benefits from the project include providing local students with employment and role model university student supervisors as incentives. There is an opportunity to discuss climate change and what individuals can do to adapt and possible careers as they work to improve their local environment.
The community and funders benefit by being involved in planting native species to restore a local natural area. The site managers benefit as they chose the site to be restored and receive a report with the procedure and findings, photographs, data analysis and recommendations. The environment also benefits since invasive species are removed according to protocol and native species are used in restoration of the site.
Costs for the entire 8 week program are approximately CAN$24,000 for 1640 hours of stewardship work in the outdoors and include data input, accounting, supervision, report preparation, analysis review and printing. ACER’s contributions include equipment, project coordination and administration. In-kind donations were received from 6 agencies for the previous years, as well as cash for salaries was received from key sponsors, such as the City of Toronto, Service Canada, and the YMCA.
The design of the project may be easily used to restore other areas, revisit older plantings or monitor new plantings.