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App: Green HFX

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Mission Statement

We aim to empower Halifax residents to initiate naturalization activities in their own yard and help increase the total area and connectivity of pollinator habitat across Halifax.

Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM) in Nova Scotia has achieved one of the highest urban greenness values of cities across Canada, even as its population has grown dramatically in recent years. Maintaining a high degree of biodiverse green spaces in urban centres can be challenging yet is increasingly important as populations grow and urban centres develop. Halifax has taken an ecological approach to managing their urban landscape, prioritizing biodiversity and enhancement of natural areas through planting of native plant species. This not only improves the ecological resilience of the city, but also beautifies the urban landscape and provides opportunities for community engagement. Several naturalization initiatives have taken place across HRM, mainly working to plant native and non-invasive adapted species of plants and trees in portions of municipal parks that were previously grass turf. While initiatives like this contribute greatly to a city’s overall greenness and ecological resilience, the potential in naturalizing small land patches should not be discounted.

Small-scale naturalization plays an important role in enhancing connectivity across an urban landscape, which is especially important for pollinator species and overall ecological resilience of an ecosystem. Even relatively large patches of biodiverse natural areas across an urban landscape are not meeting their full potential contribution to a landscape’s overall ecological function if all that can be found between naturalized areas are equally large extents of concrete, asphalt, buildings, and grass turf. This is where small-scale naturalization plays a role, by contributing small but biodiverse habitat patches to an urban landscape with otherwise large gaps and a lack of connectivity. This important contribution to ecological resilience in an urban landscape can be effectively implemented by residents in their own yards and provides a unique opportunity for meaningful community engagement.

By empowering Halifax residents to better understand their urban landscape and the role they can play in enhancing the ecological resilience of their community, we hope to further enhance HRM’s urban landscape and ongoing naturalization efforts.

Video Presentation


Team Members

Ali Al Wafi: I am an ECCE Student Associate who is currently working remotely on a GIS graduate certificate from the Centre of Geographic Sciences (NSCC) in Nova Scotia. I completed a Bachelor of Science in Biology, GIS, and Psychology from the University of Toronto Mississauga. My previous work experience includes several years of working in various research greenhouses in Ontario. I have also had the privilege of founding a local wedding entertainment business. Outside of work and studies, I have a passion for maps, plants, and nautical activities. Paddling and sailing the Great Lakes is my jam! Whenever I've got some downtime, you'll catch me out there on the waves, soaking up the sun and enjoying the thrill of it all.

Emma Hawley-Yan: I am a student in the COGS GIS graduate certificate program, living in Guelph, Ontario. I completed my undergraduate degree in 2018, obtaining a Joint Honours Bachelor of Environmental Studies in Biology & Environment and Resource Sustainability, as well as a Diploma in Ecological Restoration and Rehabilitation from the University of Waterloo. I am passionate about socio-environmental sustainability and community-driven stewardship, and am excited to apply the incredible technical knowledge I'm gaining at COGS to the environmental and social issues I care most about. In the past few years, I've worked as an outdoor education specialist, a species at risk biologist, an education & outreach coordinator in the environmental non-profit sector, and (detouring briefly) as co-founder, owner and operator of a small take-out restaurant in Toronto. In my spare time, I most enjoy going on long hikes, backcountry canoeing, making art, cooking delicious food, and relaxing at home with my partner, many house plants, and three pet bunnies.

Aaron Hillier: I am an online student in the GIS graduate certificate program at COGS, currently living in Corner Brook on the west coast of Newfoundland. I also hold a Bachelor of Arts degree in geography and French from Saint Mary's University in Halifax, Nova Scotia. My education has helped me build a solid foundation of geographic theory in areas such as geodesy, cartography, remote sensing, urban planning, and environmental management. My current studies at COGS have been the “icing on the cake” so to speak, as I have been able to apply my theoretical knowledge in a very practical and hands-on way. In my free time, I love to play music, film and edit videos, and paint. I also love anything to do with the outdoors, such as camping, hiking, skiing, hunting, and fishing.