Supporting RBG During COVID-19
As I write this, we are in our third lockdown and I hope that by the time you read this, those restrictions have lifted.
Over the past 14 or 15 months, you’ve come to understand that nature and natural areas have played a critical role in helping all of us get through one of the most difficult periods of our lives.
Through all phases of the pandemic, nature has been there for us. Whether it’s a walk around the block, or a hike along one of the many nature trails at RBG, it’s been there to heal us and to rejuvenate us.
I want to personally thank our donors for their support last year of our COVID-19 Sustainability Fund. Without them, we wouldn’t have been able to offer the fresh air escape and respite that our community needs.
But as the pandemic drags on, we’re asking for everyone to make a gift, no matter how large or small, to our COVID-19 Sustainability Fund. Your special gift will ensure that our gardens, our trails and natural areas, our programs and our services will be here for everyone to enjoy long into the future.
Will you help support our mission today?
I’ll be honest with you, though. The pandemic hasn’t been easy on RBG. Historically, a significant amount of our revenue has come from special events, weddings, rentals and our in-person programs. Almost all that revenue has disappeared.
Thankfully, many of our members and donors have stayed by our side and, fortunately, our nature trails and sanctuaries have been able to remain open this time around. That means that visitors – people like you – have a natural escape during this challenging time.
But that comes at a price. The sheer number of people visiting our nature trails, many for the first time, has increased significantly over the past year. A volume that we have never seen before. And although we’re delighted to be able to share nature with more people, it adds a new level of wear and tear on our trails and our other preservation spaces.
The efforts we need to put into conservation and preservation have increased. The amount of garbage alone has increased ten-fold, with discarded masks being one of the largest contributors. We must be so diligent at cleaning them up – imagine the distress of wildlife entangled by one! And the need for staff to monitor visitors to ensure that they are staying within marked boundaries, to protect our fragile ecosystems, has put a strain on our human resources.
With the number of people on our trails (many of which are just packed earth) means that we need to upgrade them to accommodate the traffic. I’m constantly researching new surfaces that will hold up to all weather conditions, while also protecting the flora and fauna around them.
With revenue down, it’s difficult to cover these extra costs, particularly when we don’t want to discourage people to enjoy nature during the pandemic. That’s why your special gift is so incredibly important to RBG.
There is, of course, a lot of good news to share with you.
At the beginning of the pandemic, when RBG was completely shut down (even the nature trails), I counted 15 bald eagles at Cootes Paradise. Today, we have five or six, which is still more than usual, meaning that our conservation efforts are working!
I’ve spotted our same pair and one nest, with two eaglets too. And right about the time you receive this letter, they’ll be leaving that nest. Maybe the next time you head to Cootes Paradise, you’ll spot them!
At Cherry Hill Gate, the entrance to Hendrie Valley, we’re working on parking lot improvements, which will add a dedicated picnic area and provide an enhanced entry and exit for our visitors. Also in this area, a new 600 ft. wildlife barrier fence will be installed along Plains Road, to help eliminate road fatalities to some of our most at-risk species, like the endangered Blanding’s turtle.
As you are likely already aware, we’ve been fortunate enough to offer many of our programs virtually during the pandemic. Launched during the initial lockdown, RBG at Home brings RBG directly into the homes of those who need it most. Not only that, but we are seeing over 100 school groups a month participate in our curriculum based, virtual education programming, helping to foster future generations of nature lovers.
And like I said earlier, we want to encourage people to get outside and enjoy nature. That’s why you’ll soon be able to enjoy in all seasons, five kilometres of rebuilt trail loops on the north side of Cootes Paradise. We’re also upgrading many of our other trails to be accessible, so that they are inclusive of everyone in the community seeking nature.
None of this would be possible without the support of generous donors like you. Help us lessen the impacts of the COVID-19 Pandemic on RBG with your donation. Your special gift today will help ensure that RBG and our natural areas will continue to be available for everyone to enjoy.
Head of Natural Lands, Royal Botanical Gardens
P.S. Your cherished nature trails and sanctuaries at RBG are being loved to death. Please take a moment right now to make a donation in support of the restoration and conservation efforts that will allow everyone to enjoy our outdoor areas for generations to come. Thank you.