The Carleton Conservation Collective is a volunteer initiative made up of a few dozen conservation biologists, graduate students, undergraduates, and faculty from Carleton University who are passionate about making the world a better place for both people and wildlife. That starts right here on our beautiful campus, where we tackle environmental issues through the implementation of diverse and impactful conservation actions. Rooted in the belief that anyone can participate in conservation, the Collective believes in cross-departmental collaboration and community engagement; we strive for real, actionable change across campus for the mutual benefit of nature and people. 

Carleton University is rich with biodiversity, surrounded by green space and bordered by the Rideau River and Canal. Our campus is home to many species, including nesting Red-tailed Hawks and endangered Chimney Swifts to name a couple. However, threats to biodiversity are prevalent across all urban spaces, including Carleton’s. Some of these threats include bird-window collisions, which kill 1 billion birds across North America every year and the spread of invasive species that threaten native biodiversity of all kinds. 

There are many conservation initiatives we would like to achieve around campus–from making windows more bird-friendly to reduce bird-window collisions, to planting native wildflower gardens to promote pollination and native biodiversity–but the costs of these actions can be prohibitive. Our hope is to spread awareness about conservation issues, inspire future conservation activists and environmental stewards, and find tangible solutions to help protect biodiversity on Carleton’s campus.

The Background

The Collective tackles environmental issues through collaborative, solution-oriented conservation actions. Our first major campaign included painting bird-friendly murals across the glass walkways connecting the Mackenzie Engineering Building and Architecture Building on campus. In Canada, up to 42 million birds die from window collisions and, thanks to researchers at Carleton, it is known that many buildings on campus are contributing to this staggering bird mortality. So, we collaborated with local artist Maria Gomez Umaña, and students and faculty across numerous departments, to paint beautiful and effective murals to prevent bird-window collisions. It was a wildly successful, inspiring, and super fun event! It continues to receive great attention from passersby and the media, including campus social media, student-journalists, local radio, and TV. Our hope is to one day, with your generous donations, make every window bird-friendly on campus! 

One of our upcoming projects includes planting a pollinator garden on campus. Pollinator gardens attract a diversity of local species, from bees to birds, and provide an opportunity to appreciate and learn about some of the region’s native plant species. Another upcoming project is a yearly Fall BioBlitz, where we take students and community members on nature walks to spot as many species as we can; there have already been over 520 species observed on Carleton’s biodiversity inventory on iNaturalist (https://inaturalist.ca/projects/carleton-university-biodiversity-inventory)! We hope the BioBlitz will highlight the rich diversity that is all around us on camp and help members of our community, especially those new to Ottawa, learn about local species identification.

While we have many other projects we would love to implement on campus, such as invasive species removal and re-naturalization of the Rideau River banks, our most important goal is to educate others and promote environmental conservation in our community

The Rollout

The funds received by donors will graciously go towards supporting various conservation actions, including those previously outlined. For instance, some funds will be directed towards the purchase of Feather Friendly decals and other materials for bird-friendly window treatments; other donations will go towards purchasing native plants, seeds, soil, and all other necessary equipment needed to build and plant a native pollinator garden on campus. 

All donations are immensely appreciated as these conservation actions are only made possible through your generous help and support! As our first bird-friendly mural campaign demonstrated, all funds will be used to directly implement conservation activities that benefit campus biodiversity and connect Carleton’s community with nature.

The Impact

The Carleton Conservation Collective hopes to have a lasting impact on the university community. The Collective started from the ground-up in September 2023 through the drive of students and faculty alike to engage with conservation action. We hope to get more students and University members involved to make this group a long-lasting part of Carleton University. Along with protecting biodiversity on campus, we strive to spread awareness about conservation issues through community engagement, like the upcoming Fall BioBlitz on campus. We believe community engagement and education is one of the best ways to inspire environmental stewards for the future. With your help, we are so excited to start implementing our next conservation projects, develop new solutions, and make Carleton more environmentally friendly for both people and nature. We hope the Collective will continue to grow as we inspire future environmental leaders and enact conservation solutions on campus for years to come.

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