26 April 2008

ELC Training

(UPDATE March 2014: Conservation Ontario has posted the Ecological Land Classification for Southern Ontario Manual (in PDF) and related ELC Training Course links)


 April 2008:

Is it worth it?
Up to you: maybe it's essential to your job, or a skill you want to offer as a consultant.
If you’re not sure if this course is for you, borrow or buy the field guide, and then think about it.

ELC stands for "Ecological Land Classification." The ELC's for southern Ontario (the system and its field guide) were developed in the 90's through the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources
“...in response to a growing demand for a standardized method of classifying the range of habitats found across southern Ontario …for ecologists, planners, biologists, geographers, foresters, land managers or land owners who assess and manage natural resources. ...[ELC's] provides a tool to identify, describe, name, map, and monitor landscape patterns and communities in a consistent manner." (OMNR)

ELC's include vegetation communities and environmental characteristics (e.g. topography and soil types). Useful stuff for environmental assessments, conservation and eco-restoration. ELC's are standard now, and commonly taught (or at least introduced) in relevant post-secondary programs in Ontario. Otherwise, to get the training you can take the ELC course. The course takes place over 5 days and the cost includes the field guide, instruction, meals and accommodation.
I don't know how often the training occurs (I remember only one ELC training session last year and so far I’ve only heard of one this year too.)

A friend of mine -- a U of T Botany grad -- took the training last fall. Out of 20 participants, 18 had their costs covered by their employers (e.g. conservation authorities, municipalities) and most of them were on paid leave to be there too: talk to your employer about covering or subsidizing your costs! My friend however had just graduated, was between jobs and had to pay the whole shot herself (ouch! -- made me wish there were subsidies). Her verdict? She learned a lot and she thinks it was and will be worth it for her. (She also said that they spent most of their time studying soils, including how soils can help you interpret previous plant communities on a site. Cool).

Me? Much as I truly would love to go to sleep-away ELC field camp (last year they stayed in cabins north of Kingston), instead, I'm sticking with the field guide. I bought it a couple of springs ago for $30. I like it. :)
It shows me plant communities and land+vegetation associations I would never figure out on my own. Although it is for southern Ontario, it's been useful for me around North Bay & Temagami (alongside the Central, North Eastern and North Western Ontario Forest Type Descriptions too), and even on the other side of the Ottawa river. Before I bought it, I was afraid it might be too technical, but it's well written, it explains itself, and it's well designed as a reference book too.

1 comment:

Colin said...

I am also interested in ELC, and have taken courses on it for business. I found keeping track of all the data forms cumbersome, and time consuming so I made a web app that maintains the forms for me, as well as auto-populating many of the fields in the MNR data cards. It also has a species list containing over 1000 species. Best part is that is works on my blackberry. You can see parts of the app at http://ecosim.ca/projects.html.

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