Conservation Award Recipients for 2022

Community involvement defines Ontario Nature’s character and approach. Together with our member groups and individual members, we are the voice for nature in Ontario and are building a natural legacy for future generations.

This year, the awards celebrated 8 inspirational and industrious winners. Please join us in congratulating and thanking the recipients for their vital contributions to nature conservation. Their efforts have helped conserve some of Ontario’s most vulnerable wildlife and wild spaces, while engaging with people from all walks of life.

© Mark Schwarz

Steve Hounsell Greenway Award

This award is given to a group or individual working to preserve a core area or corridor of natural habitat.

Mark Schwarz was recognized for leading several multi-pronged initiatives to recreate ecosystems in the Township of Woolwich, Region of Waterloo. Those initiatives included the naturalization of local parks, native plantings along rural roadsides, and the design and implementation of the 67-acre Elmira Nature Reserve.

Blu and Douglas Mackintosh © Dan Shire

Ontario Nature Public Service Award

This award is given to a nominee who has shown distinguished public service that resulted in an exceptional environmental achievement.

Co-winners, Blu and Douglas Mackintosh, were recognized for their work engaging members of the public in stopping the massive expropriation of private lands in the Thousand Islands area. Their efforts led to the founding of the Thousand Islands Area Residents Association in 1975, which helps protect multi-generational cottage and private land ownership.

Elizabeth Thorn, Bruce Peninsula Biosphere Association, Natural History Award © Noah Cole

Ontario Nature Natural History Award

This award is given to a nominee who has achieved a significant goal related to natural history or conservation biology.

The Bruce Peninsula Biosphere Association was recognized for its conservation, restoration and education projects on the Saugeen (Bruce) Peninsula. The association’s achievements include much-needed research on the endangered red-headed woodpecker and the species’ ecological importance to the peninsula.

Emma and Fatima © The Narwhal

Ontario Nature Media and Conservation Award

This award is presented to a nominee who engages in effective communication on one or more conservation issues through the media.

The Narwhal was recognized for its leading investigative and in-depth journalism. The non-profit magazine is a free online source of credible news on climate, nature, government and community-based action.

© Margaret Paré

Ontario Nature Education Award

This award is given to a nominee who successfully helps people understand the natural world so they become enthusiastic supporters of conservation and environmental protection.

Margaret ‘Marg’ Paré was recognized for her tireless work with the Waterloo Region Nature Kids Club. Paré also founded the Waterloo Region Nature Teens group in 2018, which has since grown to more than 70 committed participants.

rare Charitable Research Reserve © TJarvis

Ontario Nature Corporate Award

This award is given to an organization that has demonstrated outstanding action for protecting the natural environment.

This year’s award recipient is rare Charitable Research Reserve for its work as a community-based urban land trust and environmental institute that protects more than 1,200 acres of extremely sensitive natural areas in Waterloo Region and Wellington County.

Bernie VanDenBelt © Daria Koscinski

Ontario Nature Conservation Leadership Award

This award is presented to a nominee who has made an outstanding contribution to the protection of wild species and wild spaces in Ontario.

Bernie VanDenBelt was honoured for his work with the Ontario Nature Trust Alliance, the Ontario Land Trust Alliance, the Thames Talbot Land Trust and Nature London over the last 25 years. VanDenBelt’s tireless efforts in southwestern Ontario have led to the protection of more than 50 native species at risk and more than 2,000 acres of natural habitat.

Lee Symmes Municipal Award

This award is presented to nominees who exhibit exceptional leadership and achievement in planning or implementing programs that protect and regenerate the natural environment.

This year’s winner is the City of Windsor, Parks and Recreation Department for signing the Montreal Pledge, being a lead partner in establishing the new Ojibway National Urban Park, obtaining bird-friendly certification and protecting urban forests.

Lost Bay Nature Reserve


For more information, please see our Conservation Awards Media Release.

If you have any questions, please contact Lisa Martell at or 416-444-8419 ext. 271.

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