WWF-Canada joins EcoSpark to support citizen science on the Humber River

Be a part of Count for Nature, a growing movement of Canadians taking action to help our natural world.
Families out for a walk along Toronto’s Humber River on a recent fall day probably didn’t expect to find themselves in the river. But that’s what happened, thanks to Ecospark with help from WWF-Canada.

Collecting benthic samples © Heather Crochetiere / WWF-Canada
Collecting benthic samples © Heather Crochetiere / WWF-Canada

Ecospark, a community organization that encourages people to get more involved in nature, provided hip waders and helped participants venture into the river, stir up some sediment, collect samples of benthic macroinvertebrates and discover something about the health of the water ecosystem.
Benthics are the small creatures that live in the bottom of the river. They make great indicators of water health because they are very sensitive to water quality.
Once the samples had been collected, it was time to look at what they found. Ecospark team members explained that some species of benthics are sensitive to poor water quality, and others are much more tolerant. Seeing which species are present can help determine whether the water quality is good or poor.
Children learning about the health of the Humber River. ©Heather Crochetiere / WWF-Canada
Children learning about the health of the Humber River. © Heather Crochetiere / WWF-Canada

It’s the same method used to collect that data that forms the backbone of WWF-Canada’s Watershed Reports, the nationwide assessment of the health of Canada’s watersheds and threats they face.
So far, we’ve assessed 18 of Canada’s 25 major watersheds. One of the most troubling findings is that there isn’t enough data available or accessible to know the health of our water. Citizen science and community-based monitoring, like the work done by Ecospark, is one way to combat that problem.
In a time of unprecedented threats to freshwater health from climate change, pollution and other factors, it has never before been so important for existing data to be made more accessible and for monitoring to be increased where the need for more data is greatest. This data is the foundation for understanding the health of our waters nationally. Research shows that community-based monitoring can be a solution for taking care of our shared responsibility for water.

Join the Count for Nature movement

We envision a world where nature, wildlife and people thrive together – but we’ll only get there if we all play a role. Be a part of the action by counting yourself in our growing movement of Canadians helping preserve nature. Whether you’re collecting benthic samples or caring for nature in your daily life, what each of us does for nature counts.

Share your story with us at wwf.ca/countfornature and on social media @WWFCanada using the hashtag #CountForNature.