URBAN (Urban-Rural Biomonitoring and Assessment Network) is a community science monitoring program for the City of Hamilton and surrounding areas.
URBAN volunteers have tracked the health of more than 23 wetlands and 8 streams in the Hamilton region. Volunteers include local high school and university students as well as aboriginal youth in the Saugeen Ojibway Nations (Bruce Peninsula).
The overall goal of URBAN is to allow citizens, especially youth in local communities and in First Nations to experience nature, and to contribute to the preservation of wildlife and natural areas within urban and rural landscapes.
The Director of URBAN, Dr. Patricia Chow-Fraser (McMaster University), created this program with funds from the RBC Foundation (Bluewater program). During the spring of 2010 to 2014, the URBAN team consisting of Dr. Lyndsay Cartwright (2010-2011), Maja Cvetkovic (2011-2012), Amanda Fracz (2013) and Julia Rutledge (2014) collaborated with Bird Studies Canada to recruit citizens within the Hamilton region to participate in the Marsh Monitoring Program (MMP). The MMP uses the presence of indicator bird and amphibian species to assess the overall health of wetland ecosystems. During the same time period, we also created a stream monitoring program based on the presence of benthic invertebrates and stream water quality measurements during May of each year. In 2016, URBAN initiated a new program of stream monitoring based on the amount of periphytic algae that grows in stream.