Spreading Wings Butterfly/Meadow Restoration Habitat Enhancement Project


The Spreading Wings Butterfly/Meadow Restoration and Habitat Enhancement Project focused on improving the status of butterfly species within the Rouge River watershed, one of the most biodiverse watersheds in southern Ontario.  Butterflies are extremely sensitive to unhealthy environments, and are a great indicator species. Pesticide use and the loss of habitat across the globe, mostly due to urbanization have been the leading causes of a significant decrease in butterfly populations in the area.

Butterflies depend on meadows, forests and wetlands for survival.  As one of the most important pollinating insects (only second to bees), butterflies play a significant role in the environment. They are also a vital staple within the food chain, and many birds, small mammals; reptiles and amphibians cannot survive without them. Meadow restoration not only provides habitat to butterflies, but also to other wildlife dependent on wildflowers, shrubs and grasses.

This project also served to correlate the negative effects of pesticides on butterflies and children, and stressed the importance of organic gardening methods.

By involving students and adult volunteers in the restoration of the site, we provided opportunities for volunteerism, stewardship, and enhancing the classroom curriculum, while helping to improve the health of the environment. Our programs are customized to meet the educational requirements and curriculum of each grade level, from preschool to Grade 12.

The restoration site lies within a hydro corridor, a section of tableland located within the Lower Rouge Park, south of Steeles Ave.  It is approximately 400 metres south of the Rouge Valley Conservation Centre (Meadowvale Rd and Sheppard Ave), the starting point of most of our outdoor education programs.

This project provides a number of benefits to the community including environmental, educational, and social.

Results/Highlights of the 2004 planting season

  • 2000 wildflowers, and grasses were planted (4” pot plants were mainly used this season, which have a better survival rate than plugs.
  • 300 shrubs were planted (previous years usually resulted in only 50 shrubs)
  • Over 600 schools, community groups, childcare centres, etc were contacted about the program.
  • Nearly 1000 students and 150 volunteers participated in the program.