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Teaching people how to help mitigate climate change

Within the next 30 years, the climate situation is expected to become much more tenuous, says Becca Robinson, one of the presenters at an environmental webinar held this week.

A landscape designer involved with green infrastructure programs with REEP Green Solutions, she says we can expect extreme temperatures in the summer, including hot days of drought. On the flipside, there will be warmer and wetter days in the winter, which she says will include more freezing rain. Precipitation amounts are expected to be up 12 per cent over the current numbers by 2050, for instance.

To help better prepare residents to deal with those things as they come, Robinson took part in Droughts and Downpours, a webinar hosted Wednesday evening by the Nith Valley EcoBoosters. Her presentation included suggestions for people looking to make their properties more ecologically friendly.

“One of the first things I talk about is impervious surfaces, so driveways, sidewalks and lawns – even grass is pretty impervious [to precipitation when it falls]. Lots of water falls on these surfaces and rushes off your property into the storm sewer. So I talk about various interventions you can make to your property to stop that water from running off your property,” said Robinson.

She notes there are alternatives that do a better job of helping the water remain on the property, “soaking up into the ground – which is great for plants, great for the water table, and great for the water quality of the runoff that is ultimately flowing off your yard.”

While not opposed to driveways and patios, Robinson notes there are products available now that allow water to pass through these hard surfaces and be stored in the ground.

She also advocates for the planting of more “naturalized landscapes” in lieu of the usual lawns.

To make an impact on the future, Robinson says there are some really easy things which can be done now such as installing rain barrels on downspouts. She also says those who wish to make a bigger impact can consider permeable paving the next time they redo their driveways.

In addition to the message from Robinson, Nicola Thomas, Grand River Food Forestry founder, discussed how climate change could be mitigated through an increase of biodiversity and edible landscapes.

The EcoBoosters are a group committed to achieving and supporting a long-term healthy environment. They have been working within the community for many years in educating people on the best ways to help the environment.

Dorothy Wilson, communications officer with the EcoBoosters, says the recent webinar was one of the group’s many educational events.

“In light of the changing weather – certainly in this area we’ve had periods of very little or no rain for several weeks over the summer, and then you get this huge deluge – we just decided that giving some information about how to cope with that would be helpful,” said Wilson. “I think the speakers are going to touch on ways people can develop their property to have more trees and have trees that have food for both people and animals to try and increase the diversity of plant life in your, on your property in the neighborhood. And so that’s really helping the biodiversity of the community.”

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