While it is wonderful to see natural spaces simply
for the beauty of the plants and trees they contain, it is the living
creatures that call these spaces home that really catch our attention.
Native Grasslands are vital to the survival of hundreds of species of
wildlife including birds, mammals and insects. Some species only
need a few square meters of native grassland to survive (insects) but if
larger species of animals, such as Bob-white quail, ring-neck pheasants,
badger and Bobolink are ever to have sustainable populations in Ontario
again, then larger more continuous tracts of native grassland must be
established or preserved. One covey of Bob-white quail requires up
to 30 hectares of native grassland for survival. The number of
sites with true native grasslands of this size are very rare, mostly in
the far south-western part of the province. Quail populations cling to
existence, but just barely, and the simple reason is lack of suitable
habitat to sustain them. Grasslands are a blend of native warm
season grasses that can grow to heights of 4 meters and a wide diversity
(up to 200 species) of wildflowers. In combination, these plants
provide a haven for wildlife not only for cover but also as a food
source (plants and insects) and nesting/brooding areas.
Tallgrass Ontario believes there is plenty of land in
the province, owned by private individuals or held in public ownership
that is suitable for the establishment of truly native grassland.
Many individuals approach TGO each year for help in planting grasslands
on their property, for wildlife habitat, natural cover or simply for the
beauty a grassland offers. Unfortunately, TGO is limited in the
amount of habitat it can establish each year for one basic reason.
Ontario genotype seed for establishing these grasslands is very
expensive and in short supply.
The OGI addresses these limiting factors. Tallgrass Ontario will raise funds through the OGI and use those funds
to finance a large scale seed collection program each autumn.
These seeds will be cleaned and processed by TGO and then be provided at
low cost or even no-cost to individuals or groups that are willing to
establish long term native grasslands on their properties. Of
course, TGO will be there to lend technical advice and help arrange for
planting and management of the sites in the future.
Ontario genotype seed is very expensive and the
supply is limited. The cost to plant a hectare of quality
grassland habitat suitable for game and non-game species of wildlife can
range from $2000 to $5000 depending on the flower seed added to the mix.
Without flowers (forbs) a grassland becomes too dense for most species
and the insects available as a food source are greatly reduced.
The OGI will collect the forb seed from existing grassland restoration
projects annually and use this seed to restore or create other grassland
sites. Grass seed will be purchased using funds raised through the
OGI from approved sources since grass seed is only economically
harvested by machine and there are a few good quality producers of
native genotype grass seed in the province. Together, these two
practices will allow Tallgrass Ontario to establish larger tracts of
native grassland in targeted areas across southern Ontario. The
goal is to create or restore 400 hectares annually through the program.
How Can You Help?
A program of this size will require funding between
$200 000 and $300 000 annually. The funds raised will cover the
cost of collecting and cleaning flower (forb) seed, purchases of native
grass seed and staff to help deliver technical advice to prospective
landowners. A cash contribution will go a long way towards
achieving the goals of the OGI. Please consider giving a tax-receiptable
cash gift to Tallgrass Ontario directed to the OGI. Simply click
on the "Donate Now" button and provide your gift or contact us at
for more information.
Become a Volunteer Seed Collector
Individuals and groups can have a huge impact on the
amount of hectares we can plant each year by becoming volunteer seed
collectors. TGO can provide direction on how to collect the forb seed
that we require for our Ontario seed mix. Just not any seed will
do, it needs to come from Ontario genotype plants and collected in a way
to ensure the seed is viable. If you or your group would like to
get involved in seed collection and have a direct, hands-on impact in
the restoration of Ontario's native grassland, please feel free to
contact us at Tallgrass Ontario and we will get you started. Email
firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
You may have some of these plants on your property.
Visit our seed and plant identification pages to help you find these
plants on your own property. Every little bit of seed will help.