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Southbrook Vineyards – A True Leader for More Sustainable Practices
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Southbrook Vineyards – A True Leader for More Sustainable Practices

[separator headline="h3" title="A True Leader for More Sustainable Practices "] [caption id="attachment_16434" align="alignleft" width="150"]Jodi Joy Jodi Joy
Director of Development and Communications[/caption] Should you be in the Niagara-on-the-Lake area, why not stop and visit Southbrook Vineyards. Southbrook is leading by example and showing how to make great wine while caring about the environment at the same time. They are organic, bio dynamic and LEED certified. Recently, I was lucky enough to stop by the Vineyards and enjoyed a tour of the grounds and learned about the many ways Southbrook works to minimize its impact on the land. I learned about the various plants around the building that naturally ward off pests from the grapes. I learned about their bioswale which breakdowns pollution from storm water runoff. I saw their reflecting ponds which naturally increases light into their building. I thought it was brilliant to have a flock of sheep which “mow” the land and can be a source of natural fertilizer in the spring. It was encouraging to see many positive, sustainable approaches being employed which clearly balance their business needs and the environment. And this past year, their staff planted butterfly-friendly gardens as they are always striving to do more and give back.rp_iStock_monarch2-300x224.jpg We thank Bill and Marilyn Redelmeier and all the staff of Southbrook Vineyards for being a shining example to inspire change. We are delighted to partner with them again this year for the 3rd annual Earth Hour Winemakers dinner on March 19th, 2016. This year’s proceeds will help support our efforts to conserve Monarch butterflies in Canada. Please consider attending this special event to help our conservation efforts. Enjoy a visit yourself to Southbrook and enjoy their warm hospitality, their wines, jams, honey and learn more about how they are making a difference and motivating others.

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Earth Hour – Third Annual Winemakers Dinner Event
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Earth Hour – Third Annual Winemakers Dinner Event

[separator headline="h3" title="Southbrook Vineyards Earth Hour Winemakers Dinner"] Nature Canada is thrilled to partner again with Southbrook Vineyards on their upcoming 3nd annual Earth Hour Winemakers Dinner to be celebrated on Saturday March 19th from 7:00 to 10:00 pm. This year's they are Featuring a meal prepared by Chef John Vetere and Chef Tanya Ganassini of the Norton Underground. What is so interesting and exciting about this celebration is the special delicious 3-course meal with wine pairings all enjoyed by candle light.  What is even more amazing is that proceeds help support our efforts to conserve and protect Monarch butterflies in Canada. Many of us fondly remember watching monarchs flitting around in the fields  of our youth.  I was thrilled  to spot one on a nature walk with my children last summer.  But Monarchs are declining in numbers and less common to see and enjoy than ever before.  This is why Nature Canada is working to raise awareness about the importance of milkweed and encouraging backyard butterfly gardens for their continued survival.  Also we are calling for more conservation action by the federal government for their protection across their migratory pathway. We are so thankful to Southbrook Vineyards for helping us to raise funds through their Earth Hour Winemakers Dinner and encourage you to consider attending.  There were rave reviews from last year’s event with guests delighted to be both supporting conservation and giving back while enjoying such a lovely meal and fabulous organic wines in the perfect candle-lit atmosphere of the Great Room. Why not consider attending the Candle Lit Winemaker’s Dinner at Southbrook to celebrate your Earth Hour!  Proceeds will help protect Monarchs while celebrating a great cause. **** Southbrook Vineyards Winemaker’s Dinner When:  Earth Hour, Saturday March 19, 2016, 7:00 – 10:00 pm Where:  Southbrook Vineyards, 581 Niagara Stone Road, Niagara on the Lake, Ontario L0S 1J0 Cost:     $110 + HST (with proceeds to Nature Canada) How to Register:  Register online by emailing: events@southbrook.com Or register by telephone:  (905) 641 2548 Email Lindsay Park for more information:  Lindsay@southbrook.com

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Vote for Nature
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Vote for Nature

[separator headline="h2" title="Canada Has Tremendous Opportunities"]Let’s make nature conservation an issue in the federal election set for October 19! Canada has tremendous opportunities to conserve our endangered species and spaces, but the time to act is now. Every year, more of Canada’s animals and plants are threatened with extinction, and many natural landscapes such as tall-grass prairie, and Acadian, Carolinian and Coastal Douglas Fir forests have been reduced to fragments. Globally, human-induced climate change is already causing major damaging impacts to people and nature through extreme weather events, drought, floods and loss of ecological services that Canadians depend on. [separator headline="h2" title="Ask Your Local Candidates for Parliament Where They Stand"] Send a message to all federal political parties that conserving nature is important to you. Find out where the candidates and their parties stand on urgent nature issues. Ask Your Candidates:

  • Many of Canada’s environmental laws have been repealed or weakened in recent years. Will you strengthen federal laws to protect species at risk? Will you ensure that developments, such as pipelines, are required to be assessed with public hearings to achieve sustainability?
  • More oil pipelines would mean more supertankers in Vancouver harbour, the Salish Sea and the Bay of Fundy, and a greater risk of a catastrophic spill like Exxon Valdez. What will you do to prevent such disasters on Canada’s seas and coasts?
  • Canada is losing many of its unique wild places. What will you do to ensure that Canada meets its international law commitments to protect 17 per cent of Canada’s land areas by 2020 and 10 per cent of Canada’s ocean areas by 2020?
  • Canada is not doing its fair share in reducing greenhouse-gas emissions that are causing climate change that is dangerous to people and wildlife. What will you do to ensure that Canada does its fair share in fighting climate change and moves quickly to a low-carbon economy?
  • Fewer Canadians than ever hike, canoe, bicycle, birdwatch, visit parks or explore the great outdoors and more Canadians are experiencing health problems such as obesity. How will you encourage Canadians to get healthier through outdoor nature activities?
  • Investment in renewable energy, energy efficiency and other green technologies would have a positive impact on jobs and economic growth in Canada. How will you encourage Canada’s emerging green economy?
Strong leadership supported by active and engaged citizens is needed to address the urgent threats of biodiversity loss and climate change, and seize the opportunities to move to a green, low-carbon economy and connect Canadians to nature. Tell Canada’s leaders where you stand – vote for nature in 2015!

Birds Without Borders
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Birds Without Borders

[separator headline="h3" title="Conservation Efforts Have to Reach Across Borders"] [caption id="attachment_16443" align="alignleft" width="126"]Eleanor Fast Eleanor Fast
Executive Director[/caption] Birds and other wildlife don’t recognize borders – and conservation efforts have to reach across borders too. Last weekend I participated in National Audubon’s biennial convention near Washington, DC. Hundreds of people gathered from Audubon chapters across the US to develop projects and partnerships and share experiences to improve the conservation of birds and other nature in their neighbourhoods. The buzz was contagious and inspiring.Audubon Convention I was at the convention as part of a large gathering of our BirdLife partners from across the Americas to discuss how we can work even more effectively across international boundaries to protect birds. This is enormously important of course as many of our Canadian birds aren’t fully Canadian but migrate huge distances every year to wintering sites in Latin America and the Caribbean. Nature Canada recognizes this continually in our work, for example in learning more about Purple Martins, in protecting Whooping Crane habitat both here in Canada and in Texas, and in spearheading efforts to protect the Canada Warbler among many others. Moving forward, we will also be a leading partner, working with Audubon and Mexico’s ProNatura in developing a grasslands strategy for North America, building on our exciting successes in protecting habitat and species – especially the iconic sage grouse - in Canada. [separator headline="h3" title="Going Far Beyond Birds"]As a Canadian co-partner of BirdLife, the international dimension of our work is always on our minds, and it warblergoes far beyond birds: we also have many other international linkages; for example Nature Canada is a member of the International Union of Conservation for Nature (IUCN) and this winter I pleased to be elected to the Board of the Canadian Committee to the IUCN which provides Nature Canada with an important voice in international conservation. We also participate in many international fora, such as the international parks congress. Nature Canada is a leader in international conservation efforts and the weekend in Washington renewed my determination to continue the difficult work of building partnerships and working together across borders to protect the nature we all love. I hope you will join me in that determination – it is thanks to all our members and supporters that we are able to protect Canadian wildlife and habitats – wherever they are.

Bird Tweet of the Week: Bank Swallow
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Bird Tweet of the Week: Bank Swallow

[caption id="attachment_14773" align="alignleft" width="300"]Bank SwallowBank Swallow[/caption] Each week we introduce a new bird from the Ottawa-Gatineau area through our segment on CBC Radio’s In Town and Out. Alex MacDonald, Nature Canada’s Manager of Protected Areas, shares interesting facts about the birds that live in our communities. Be sure to tune-in to “Bird Tweet of the Week” on CBC Radio One 91.5 FM on Saturday mornings from 6am to 9am and listen to past episodes on our website. This episode aired on Saturday July 11th, 2015

Bird Tweet of the Week: American Avocet
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Bird Tweet of the Week: American Avocet

[caption id="attachment_14773" align="alignleft" width="300"]American Avocet American Avocet[/caption] Each week we introduce a new bird from the Ottawa-Gatineau area through our segment on CBC Radio’s In Town and Out. Alex MacDonald, Nature Canada’s Manager of Protected Areas, shares interesting facts about the birds that live in our communities. Be sure to tune-in to “Bird Tweet of the Week” on CBC Radio One 91.5 FM on Saturday mornings from 6am to 9am and listen to past episodes on our website. This episode aired on Saturday July 4th, 2015

War Memorial at Green Cove Headland
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War Memorial at Green Cove Headland

Picture of Dr. Sandra BarrDr. Sandra M. Barr is a Professor and J. Austin Bancroft Chair in Geology in the Department of Earth and Environmental Science at Acadia University. During her career she has shared her passion for Earth science with thousands of students, helping them to better understand and appreciate Earth processes and history. Her research has a strong emphasis on studying rocks, and to see them she has hiked many of the rivers, streams, and shorelines in Nova Scotia. Sandra is a founding member of Women for Nature and is sharing her thoughts on the beauty and importance of "Green Cove" and her concern about a proposed monument being erected in Cape Breton national park.   [separator headline="h2" title="Preserve & Protect Beauty in Canada"] Michelle Valberg's photoIn spite of the fact that the Cape Breton Highlands National Park in northern Nova Scotia is renowned for its scenic beauty, and the fact that the mandate of Parks Canada is to preserve and protect that beauty for all Canadians, a private foundation has made a proposal to build a huge war memorial at Green Cove headland. The proposed monument (24 metres in height!) will cover a prominent coastal rock outcrop that is currently visited by many as one of the most scenic look-offs in the park. It will transform the scenery from natural to "man-made". I am one of many people shocked by the way in which this proposal has been moving ahead - construction could begin this autumn, and already test drilling has been done on the site. Many more details can be found on a website set up by a group of concerned citizens, of which I am one. I am especially concerned because I have done geological research in that area since 1978, and together with my former students, I am responsible for much of what is known about the 375-million-year-old rocks that will be covered by the memorial and related structures (including a 300-car parking lot!). The Green Cove site has no particular significance to war veterans - no one ever set sail for war from Green Cove. In contrast, it has tremendous significance for Canada's geoheritage. The bedrock exposed at Green Cove headland is beautiful and unique. It is a glacially shaped and polished granite surface, kept clear of weathering and seaweed by waves and winter ice.   [separator headline="h2" title="Where One is Free to Wander..."] The geological history preserved and displayed in the rocks on the Green Cove headland is remarkable. greencoveIt is not the only outcrop of these rocks in the park, but it is arguably the best, and the most accessible. At Green Cove one is free to wander around and view the rocks and try to understand their story. That story and the beauty of the location are the reasons why my co-author (Dr. Martha Hickman Hild) and I included Green Cove in our guidebook on the Geology of Nova Scotia (Boulder Publications 2015). Green Cove is one of 48 sites that we selected for the book as the very best places to view the rocks that tell Nova Scotia’s geological story. We dedicated our book “To the people of Nova Scotia, stewards of a unique geological heritage”. There are no doubt many alternative sites on private land where the Never Forgotten National Memorial could be built, but there is only one Green Cove. It should be left as it is for future generations.

Variable Darner Dragonfly: What Makes Them Good Predators?
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Variable Darner Dragonfly: What Makes Them Good Predators?

[caption id="attachment_19831" align="alignleft" width="150"]Valerie Assinewe, Professional Writing Program Intern Valerie Assinewe, Professional Writing Program Intern[/caption] Dragonflies have no sense of hearing, cannot smell, and are unable to vocalize. However, this has not limited their predator lifestyle. The two compound eyes which dominate the head are composed of 30000 facets, or lenses each. Each facet forms one visual information and together the lenses form a mosaic image. This visual system is extremely sensitive to movement, polarized light, and with the way the head is attached to the neck provides a 360-degree visual field. It gives this predator an advantage to target and intercept prey. It also means that with no blind spot they are hard to catch. Dragonfly Dragonflies are a fast and highly manoeuvrable hunter. Their four wings, which are extended horizontally, operate independently of each other, allowing it to move in mid-air like a helicopter—they can hover, fly forwards, backwards, and sideways, and instantly change direction whenever they need to. Dragonflies can even fly upside down if they need to. With the exception of damselflies (which belong to the same order), dragonflies are the only insects with this amount of control over their wings. Delicate yet powerful, each wing connects to the thorax with a separate muscle group. Bursts of 0.3 m/s have been recorded. Dragonflies are in the order Odonata meaning “toothed ones.” Insects do not have teeth in the sense that mammals have teeth. The mouthparts are made of chitin, as is the rest of the exoskeleton. Nevertheless, the labrum (upper lip), labium (lower lip), mandibles, and maxillae are formidable capturing and eating machinery. Watching the jaw action of this predator, especially in its aquatic life stage, will show how this insect could have inspired the “Alien” movies. In as little as 1/100 of a second, the prey is secured by the labium, which can be extended out to 1/3 the length of nymph body, snagging the victim and delivering it to the waiting hungry jaws. [embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=knlXTU1R_rE[/embed] As an adult, the Darner will eat almost any soft-bodied flying insect including mosquitoes, flies, butterflies, moths, mayflies, stoneflies, and immature dragonflies. As a naiad, the Darner feeds on a wide variety of aquatic insects, such as mosquito larvae, other aquatic fly larvae, mayfly larvae, and freshwater shrimp. They will also eat very small fish and tadpoles. Dragonflies are voracious feeders and I for one am grateful they have remained small since their evolution millions of years ago.

Sharon Butala Shares her Favourite Places in Nature
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Sharon Butala Shares her Favourite Places in Nature

Sharon Butala is an award-winning and best-selling author, conservationist and founding member of Women for Nature. Sharon and her husband Peter donated their ranch and prairie grasslands to create The Old Man On His Back Prairie and Heritage Conservation Area which is a 13,000-acre nature preserve found in Saskatchewan. Today she shares with us her thoughts on the spiritual and emotional connection that humans have with nature and wildlands. Sharon blog4My favourite spots in nature tend to be in the past because of the death of my husband and the sale of the land, but in the days when I had thousands of acres to roam over by myself, more than thirty years of days of roaming, I learned to love a particular spot in a particular field. In a deep, narrow place between two low hills the water would collect and as long as Peter kept the cattle out (which he did for twenty years) plants would grow in that spot that grew nowhere else on any of the land. They were, of course, prairie plants, but mostly ones that grew only in a much wetter spots than we were used to having, one of them being a tall plant reminiscent of a wild strawberry but that was actually a type of cinquefoil more used to damp ground. I knew all the others, too, but sometimes I think in my seven years away from that field, that when I left I wiped my brain clean of particularities as, in the face of their loss, too painful to remember. The other day my son showed me a photo he’d taken of nests of crocuses growing in an unplowed, ungrazed wild prairie field and something visceral grabbed me and I had to look away. In such instances, I see, but I also smell and feel, am immersed again in the ambience of such a field – anywhere. To know that particular field is still there matters very much to me, but after thirty-three years of walking in it I know that what was told me when I left is true: The prairie lives inside me or, I have “internalized it” and being in it isn’t as important to me as it once was, nor do I need as those who didSharon Blogn’t have the opportunity I had to be in it, need it. So, I remain, even prairie-less these days, one of the fortunate few who carries the prairie everywhere. It is solace, but a small one compared to being able to walk out in the field whenever the desire stirs me. There is something more though, something bigger. Once you get to be very familiar with a wild place, get to know every nook and cranny of it, once you can walk yourself right out of your own brain with its endless circling ruminations, questioning and responses, in such a place – a field, a forest, a river valley, a mountain or a hill – you walk yourself into another kind of Sharon blog 3consciousness. Of course, this means you can’t have a purpose: you can’t be reading, or on a scientific quest, or immersed in a hobby, or doing a sport. Can you be praying? I would say not in a formal way but surely all such walking is a form of spiritual communion. You have to let your active brain go and just be. Then, nature comes to you, rather than the other way around. I support attempts to save wild places because I know from personal experience that isn’t even science-based how important such places are to the saving and the blossoming of our humanity. They aren’t just pretty, or even necessarily pretty, but spirit resides in them – whatever that means – and humans are a spiritual species whether they want to be or not, and cannot exist without opportunities to connect. Wild lands are the places where this can happen.

Bird Tweet of the Week: Black-throated Blue Warbler
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Bird Tweet of the Week: Black-throated Blue Warbler

[caption id="attachment_14773" align="alignleft" width="300"]Black-throated Blue Warbler Black-throated Blue Warbler - Photo from Flickr, Jerry Oldenette[/caption] Each week we introduce a new bird from the Ottawa-Gatineau area through our segment on CBC Radio’s In Town and Out. Alex MacDonald, Nature Canada’s Manager of Protected Areas, shares interesting facts about the birds that live in our communities. Be sure to tune-in to “Bird Tweet of the Week” on CBC Radio One 91.5 FM on Saturday mornings from 6am to 9am and listen to past episodes on our website. This episode aired on Saturday June 6, 2015

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