In 1998 the World Wildlife Fund Canada and Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources published the ground- breaking document Tallgrass Communities of Southern Ontario: A Recovery Plan. This document was one of the first ecosystem-based recovery plans in Canada and was the founding document for the association that later became Tallgrass Ontario. Tallgrass Prairies and Savannas are some of the most endangered ecological communities in Canada, with approximately 1 percent of their original extent remaining. Tallgrass communities once covered a significant part of Southern Ontario’s landscape. Owing to degradation and destruction through urban development, agriculture, pollution and mismanagement, less than 3 percent of the original extent remains in the region, with most remnants existing in small, isolated patches. As these highly diverse communities themselves are rare and threatened, so too are many of the wildlife species which depend on these communities for their survival.
A species-by-species approach to recovering Tallgrass Communities is unrealistic for the task at hand. Because of this, the Recovery Plan deals with recovering tallgrass communities as a whole across their range in Ontario. The overall goal of this Recovery Plan is to recover, reconstruct and conserve a representative network of tallgrass communities, and to recover and protect the full complement of plant and animal life that makes up these diverse ecological communities. To do this on a region-wide scale in a strategic and comprehensive manner, the following eight goals for recovery provide key direction:
- Improve communication, coordination and information-sharing among those involved in tallgrass community conservation.
- Amass complete information regarding all tallgrass community remnants in southern Ontario.
- Establish and expand a network of protected tallgrass community remnants.
- Encourage protection of tallgrass remnants through sound management.
- Encourage restoration and habitat creation initiatives where appropriate to enlarge existing remnants, make linkages and create new habitat.
- Raise public awareness and appreciation of tallgrass communities.
- Reduce significantly the number of tallgrass community species at risk.
- Encourage basic and applied research relevant to tallgrass community conservation.
The Recovery Plan lists objectives and specific action items necessary to achieve each of the eight goals.
The Ontario Tallgrass Prairie and Savanna Association formed in 1999 to implement the Recovery Plan for Tallgrass Communities of Southern Ontario. The association became Tallgrass Ontario when it was incorporated as a federally regulated charity on January 1st, 2002. The establishment of the Recovery Plan was an important first step toward recovering southern Ontario’s tallgrass communities. It provided a basis for action and laid out specific tasks. All levels of government, non-governmental organizations large and small, private landowners, public land managers, businesses and industries have a part to play. It is vital to coordinate the organizations and individuals already engaging in recovery activities and to “expand the circle” by getting others involved. Leadership, monetary and other resources, as well as cooperation, creativity and commitment are all needed to achieve the goals.
From time to time Tallgrass Ontario revisits the Tallgrass Recovery Plan that gave rise to the organization. The most recent update was completed in 2019 and is now available for download.
Download Tallgrass Communities of Southern Ontario Recovery Plan (pdf)