Restore and Renew – the 500-year Project

The Old-Growth Forest Project is an initiative of the Ignatius Jesuit Centre. Situated at the northern edge of the City of Guelph, this 93-acre nature sanctuary of trails, forests, meadows, wetlands and waterways is protected forever by a Conservation Easement with the Ontario Farmland Trust.   It is the Project’s goal, with the help of local students and community volunteers to restore and protect these diverse ecological communities and to assist the regeneration of retired farmland, from old-field meadow to old-growth forest.

‘Through ecological restoration we can restore our own connection to the natural world’

Protect and Connect

Situated on the banks of the Speed River, the project lands form a band of protected natural space connecting Guelph Lake Conservation area in the east to the Guelph-Eramosa Trail in the west. This green corridor provides forest habitat, ecological connectivity and is an important riparian buffer contributing to the health of the Grand River watershed and the Great Lakes.

The protection of ecological biodiversity is essential for a healthy future and connects all of life: water, air, humans, animals, plants, and food. On the Project land we have documented 220 different plant species and 76 species of wildlife, 10 of which are provincially or regionally rare and significant. These include:  butternut trees, snapping turtles, swamp darner dragonflies and eastern meadowlarks.

Engage and Educate – get involved!

The Project lands offer a beautiful and peaceful setting for forest hikes, education, spiritual renewal and nature connection.  Through our diverse range of education and volunteer programs there are many ways to gain skills and knowledge in ecology, reforestation, stream rehabilitation and natural approaches to invasive plant species control. Whether you are an individual, school or community group or a local business the Old-Growth Forest Project provides opportunities to get involved and impact positive change to the surrounding environment through:

Project History

Integral to the foundation of the Ignatius Old-Growth Forest Project are the values of the Ignatius Jesuit Centre, which encourages the sharing of the sacredness of creation through spiritual development, education, the fostering of community, and the care and stewardship of the land. The project was founded in 2006 by the Ignatius Jesuit Centre (IJC), in collaboration with the Guelph International Resource Centre

What we have achieved so far

Since the conception of the project in 2006 Ignatius staff, in collaboration with volunteers, community groups, government and environmental agencies have made great strides. Here are some of our major achievements to date:

  • The removal of the Ignatius dam allowing Marden Creek to flow freely to the Speed River
  • Ecological assessment of the land and the production of the project’s restoration plan
  • Cold water stream species such as sculpin and brook trout return to the Ignatius section of the creek
  • Planting of the creek mudflats with sedges, grasses, wildflowers, trees and shrubs
  • Reforesting the land by planting 2000 native trees and shrubs a year
  • Securing a conservation easement with the Ontario Farmland Trust which protects the land forever

Supporting the Project

There are many ways in which you can support the project: