Posted by Caroline Zawadzka
Landowner Contact Specialist
Developing a stewardship plan for your property is nothing more than a list of action items to enhance the land, as well as your enjoyment and use of it. Your plan should be based on two things: one, the land itself. This may consist of woodlands, meadows, prairies, wetlands, shorelines, or if you are like me, a less than half acre backyard just outside of town. Secondly, it should be based on your own goals as the landowner and what you want to achieve in the years to follow.
As the Landowner Contact Specialist for Lower Trent Conservation I may be able to provide you with useful suggestions for things you can do to protect or enhance your surrounding landscape.
Some practical first steps are to walk the land in all seasons and think about what you could do to enhance its already present natural values. Pay close attention to the species of trees, shrubs, wildflowers, or grasses and make note of special habitat features. After all, you’re probably sharing the landscape with more creatures than you realize and things already might have an established natural flow to them. The key thing is getting to know your land and understanding how it fits into the greater picture.
When you’ve finished your observations, list some goals for your land. For example, are you interested in agriculture, wildlife habitat, simply leaving areas alone, or naturalizing sections with plantings? In this particular part, consider the amount of time, money, human effort and outside resources that may be needed to complete your project. What I tell landowners doing this for a first time is to set realistic and attainable goals. Some good news is that most options are not expensive as much as they are time consuming.
Also, take the time to just enjoy your land. If you make efforts to get to know your land in all four seasons, by walking slowly, listening and observing, in the morning or in the evening, your efforts will be rewarded with a deeper appreciation of your land and thus making you better equipped to look after it. You just might find the meaning of being “in” or “within” a living system and not just “on” the land – which to me is the heart of true stewardship.
In the meantime if you’re snowed in like most of us are these days, you can do a sketch of your property to plan the location of plantings or other details. A pencil and a piece of paper is all you need. Decide what interests you and choose activities that motivate you. Be realistic; be practical.
Got questions or not sure where to start? Sometimes getting another opinion can broaden your perspective on options. And did I mention that I LOVE to get out of the office for site visits?!