Spread over 93 acres of land in Niagara Falls, Ontario is the natural attraction of Heartland Forest Nature Experience. It is home to a Carolinian forest, trails, ponds, several species of trees, plants, amphibians, birds and more. It became a registered charitable organization in 2003 and its mission is to build healthy children and communities who feel a deep connection to the natural world.
The history of this place goes back to 1999 when its founder Dan Bowman purchased the land to prevent it from becoming yet another industrial hub. Over the next few years, he played a major role in developing forest trails, a turtle pond, outdoor learning centres and one of Canada’s largest tree-houses. The learning programs here are popular with children, educators and other adults as well. Thousands of visitors come here to experience nature, enjoy the trails and use the various facilities.
Among several other interesting features at the Heartland Forest are a fishing pond, a butterfly garden, picnic shelters, playgrounds, animal carvings and a barrier-free mini-putt. There are several programs held around the year and the most popular ones are:
The wonders of nature are many and this program enables people to discover natural ecosystems. They can explore the forest trail and learn several things with the help of professional outdoor educators. The forest discovery can also be experienced by physically challenged visitors in wheelchairs with the help of the ‘Tootsie Express’ train. Seniors and others who are unable to walk long distances can use a golf cart to navigate the trail. Both individuals and groups can enlist themselves in the Forest Discovery program.
Children can learn a lot about natural ecosystems in the forest through several learning modules. They will also realize the importance of their active participation in the preservation of the environment. Educators can use this program to aid practical learning in children through observation and participation in outdoor learning activities. By observing the animal and plant life in this ecosystem, children of all ages can see for themselves what they learn at school.
This program is offered during school holidays and is a great way for children to experience nature through several fun-filled activities. Camp leaders teach campers to explore the outdoors using nature studies, storytelling, music and also through primitive living skills.
Other than this, private groups or companies can rent facilities on the property to celebrate picnics, birthday parties, family reunions and more. Some of the facilities that can be reserved for this are the tree-house, picnic areas, playground, the mini-putt and more. The Heartland Forest Nature Centre located at the edge of the forest is available for those who wish to host private events. The premises have a Carolinian Classroom, an Arts Studio, a Woodworking Shop and a conference and exhibition space with seating for up to 200 people.
The trails in the forest are open from early morning to evening. While admission to the forest is free, some programs and events charge a nominal fee.
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