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Taking Carden Challenge virtual pays big dividends for Conservancy

Normally, event attracts 40-50 people and raises $20,000; Unique COVID-19 edition attracts 90 people and has raised more than $38,000

Over $38,000 and counting has been raised by almost 90 participants of the 16th annual Carden Challenge.

This year, participants counted as many species as possible in 24 hours in their own neighbourhoods and rallied around the Couchiching Conservancy during a difficult time.

Funds raised from this event support The Couchiching Conservancy to protect and steward the Carden alvar, a globally rare landscape which is home to hundreds of species and many Species at Risk. By working with other organizations such as Nature Conservancy of Canada and Ontario Parks, we collectively protect thousands of acres of alvar habitat.

The Conservancy is incredibly pleased with participation and the amount raised.

“With the impacts of COVID-19, so much was uncertain,” said Tanya Clark, Development Coordinator. “We wanted to keep the event going and even though we can’t be together in person, we know that people care so much for Carden and the species who call the area home”.

The event provided an opportunity for people to learn more about the species in their own areas. In previous years, the event would have 40-50 participants. Almost 90 participants across Ontario took part, from Long Point to Algoma District, and London to Uphill.

The goal of Carden Challenge is simple - raise funds for alvar conservation, count species and grow awareness of this globally rare landscape close to Orillia. Usually, participants would be counting on the Carden alvar. In the past five years, the event would raise an average of $20,000.

Alvars occur only on limestone bedrock with little or no soil, where spring floods and summer droughts create harsh conditions. Many of the wildflowers, native grasses and invertebrate species found on alvars normally occur in the western provinces, and many are rare.

These habitats are globally imperiled, occurring only in the south of Sweden and scattered around the Great Lakes Basin. Carden Township’s alvars are thought to be among the richest in the province, with a great diversity of alvar species.

To learn more about the alvar and how you can take an active role in protecting nature, please visit




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