Currents of Change: Inspiring, Creating, Transforming

Currents of Change: Inspiring, Creating, Transforming

Monday, 15 December 2014

Wrapping up another successful year!

By Hazel Breton, Chair, 2014 Latornell Conservation Symposium

On behalf of the Steering Committee, I would like to thank you for attending the 21st Latornell Conservation Symposium. While we were certainly tested by the weather you were resolved in your determination to attend the Symposium.

With the theme of Growth & Transformation, this year’s Symposium was specifically geared to engage attendees to embrace both personal and professional growth and enable local communities in much needed transformative change.

Thank you for your feedback through the survey that was recently circulated. Ninety-three percent of respondents thought the Symposium was good to excellent and eighty-seven percent of respondents felt that they would share what they learned with those at their place of work.  We have heard that you enjoyed having a variety of learning formats including workshops, tours and traditional sessions. Networking opportunities remain a key opportunity for attendees to connect with other professionals from across disciplines and across the province. Once again attendees were very pleased with both the Nottawasaga Inn and all the amenities it offers, especially the caliber of meals.

Our fundraising activities were very well supported again this year and we were able to raise over $10,000 towards supporting attendees who would not otherwise be able to afford to attend the Symposium in 2015. Thank you for your generosity and support of these activities.

I would like to thank our sponsors for their financial support towards delivering a comprehensive three-day program. We could not otherwise produce this high caliber experience for attendees.

I am grateful to the steering committee members who worked tirelessly over the year prior to the Symposium and during the Symposium. Their commitment and enthusiasm throughout the year leading up to the Symposium is acknowledged and greatly appreciated.

Finally, I trust that you will all continue your professional journey and feel empowered, both personally and professionally, to take action to begin to transform your local communities (offices, watersheds, municipalities, businesses etc.) to meet the challenges ahead. Some advice - start today.

It has been a wonderful privilege and honour for me to chair this 21st Symposium. All my best.

Hazel Breton is the Chair of the 2014 Latornell Conservation Symposium.

Monday, 10 November 2014

It's in our nature, and nature is us!

By Mike Puddister, Director Restoration & Stewardship, Credit Valley Conservation

Natures benefits, or ecosystem services is a way of thinking about our relationships, in fact our dependence upon, the natural environment for our social, physical, mental and economic health and wellbeing. In reading a number of Latornell blogs posted over the last several years, I was amazed at how many fellow conservationists spoke of the important relationship we have with the natural environment.

It is obvious to me that these messages are having a hard time getting beyond the tree huggers; and I mean that in the fondest way…heck I’m one of them! When I think back to the challenges our planners face day in and day out, this lack of understanding can hit you right between the eyes. If you’ve ever had to try and negotiate a solution for the protection or restoration of an important natural feature it often seemed like an ‘us versus them, take no prisoners smack down’!

The concepts of natural capital and ecosystem services provide a basis for better appreciating and understanding how we benefit from a healthy natural environment today and through effective conservation can continue to benefit in the future. That’s not to say the natural environment isn’t valuable in its own right, the problem is that these intrinsic values rarely get notice when one is embroiled in a benefit-cost-type discussion. Rarely will you hear reference to ecosystem services, such as the air quality, urban heat island or social cohesion benefits (and in some cases, monetary value) of a woodlot about to go under the axe. While some bristle at the idea, I am convinced that we need to talk about the importance of nature from an anthropocentric point of view. The “what’s in it for us” perspective is often what wins the day. Thankfully some altruism still exists, but I think we need to appeal more to our own self-interest.

The reality is no one makes decisions with the intent to do harm. Land use changes are however, driven by economic growth and the need to meet increased demands for housing, food, and other consumer goods and services; all of which provide us a better quality of life.  However, the external costs imposed by these activities are simply not accounted for and are ultimately borne by society. Continuing to ignore these costs in our quest for a better quality of life could end up undermining the very source of our well-being, our life supporting ecosystems, and may actually cost us our quality of life.

While we all know the protection and restoration of the natural environment is critical for wildlife habitat, water quality and quantity to name a few, the underlying message is that we need to fundamentally transform the way we think about managing our natural systems. We need a paradigm shift that requires us to recognize the natural systems that make up our landscape are not simply resources to be extracted or removed, but represent elements of an ecosystem upon which we all depend. It provides our life support systems and our economic and social support systems. We exist within a socio-ecological system. It’s another way of thinking about humans as an integral part of the ecosystem approach.

The Ontario Network on Ecosystem Services (ONES) has been established to further this conversation in Ontario and help advance the transformation we are all hoping for. If you’d like to know more about what is happening in the world of ecosystem services check out If you have interest in the connections between a healthy natural environment and our community health and wellbeing, keep an eye out for EcoHealth Ontario, a province-wide collaboration of public health folks, CAs, NGOs, medical and planning professionals and others. There will be a website up soon @

Mike Puddister has been employed by Credit Valley Conservation Authority since 1985 and is currently Director of Restoration and Stewardship (and a recovering planner). His responsibilities within the Credit include terrestrial, aquatic and wetland habitat restoration, forest management, urban and rural community outreach, education and research in areas such as ecosystem services.


Monday, 8 September 2014

Welcome to the 2014 Latornell Conservation Symposium

By Hazel Breton, Chair, 21st Annual Latornell Conservation Symposium

I am very pleased to announce that the registration for this year’s Latornell Conservation Symposium is open.

The steering committee has been working with great enthusiasm to make your time at the Symposium memorable and ensure that you are able to take away new thoughts, ideas and tools that will serve you in the months and years following the Symposium. We have listened to your feedback and have made some changes this year to make your experience at the Symposium that much 'more'. 

We are now offering three full days that encompass a variety of sessions including workshops, tours, as well as the traditional presentations. This year we will be featuring over 240 speakers, an increase of over 100 speakers from previous years. To do all of this, the Symposium will now begin on Tuesday November 18th and end on Thursday November 20th.

Our theme this year is Growth and Transformation. As our communities expand we continue to experience the challenges that growth brings.  In more recent years, these challenges have been exacerbated by extreme events such as our weather. As environmental professionals and members of local communities, we need to be able to transform our attitudes, behaviours, and expectations so we are prepared for the environmental challenges and all things connected ahead of us.

I invite you to come learn with us, share a few laughs, and leave with a sense of renewed enthusiasm that you can and will make a difference.

See you in November!

Hazel Breton is the Chair of the 21st Annual Latornell Conservation Symposium and Manager of Water Resource Engineering at the Hamilton Conservation Authority.