Nature Canada Nature Canada Nature Canada Nature Canada Nature Canada Nature Canada Nature Canada Nature Canada Nature Canada Nature Canada
Nature Canada to Intervene in NEB Reconsideration of Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion
News

Nature Canada to Intervene in NEB Reconsideration of Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion

Nature Canada and BC Nature are intervening on the National Energy Board’s reconsideration of the TMX Expansion to ensure a proper assessment of oil tanker impacts from the Trans Mountain Expansion Project – one which considers risk to marine bird species. The Trans Mountain project would increase Edmonton to Vancouver pipeline capacity from 300,000 to 890,000 barrels per day, and result in oil tanks moving almost daily through the Salish Sea past critical Important Bird Areas such as Boundary Bay. Increasing oil tanker traffic with Trans Mountain bitumen in the Salish Sea, with its powerful winter storms and narrow curving channels, will increase the risk of a catastrophic oil spill. For the intervention, Nature Canada and BC Nature are represented by the Pacific Centre for Environmental Law and Litigation, a non-profit public interest environmental law organization. Pacific CELL is unique insofar as its mission is to be a vehicle for providing cutting-edge experiential opportunities for junior lawyers and law students to develop litigation skills; it is the environmental law equivalent of a teaching hospital. In August 2018, the Federal Court of Appeal (FCA) quashed the federal government’s approval of the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion Project, saying the NEB’s review of the project failed to consider the impacts of an increase in oil tanker traffic in the Salish Sea on the Southern Resident Orcas and that the government did not engage in sufficient consultation with Indigenous peoples impacted by the project. The FCA directed the NEB to reconsider Kinder Morgan’s application for a Certification of Public Convenience and Necessity. Subsequently, the NEB has sought comments on the whether project-related marine shipping should be assessed in conjunction with the pipeline expansion. Nature Canada and BC Nature, represented by Pacific CELL, filed their response to the NEB’s request for comments about the reconsideration process. The submission urged the NEB to conduct an assessment or project-related shipping that would properly consider impacts on marine birds. Nature Canada’s view is that the NEB has never adequately considered birds and key Important Bird Areas such as Boundary Bay along the tanker route in the Salish Sea. This is the same position Nature Canada and BC Nature have taken since 2015. At the initial NEB hearings, Nature Canada argued that Trans Mountain’s application for a Certification of Public Convenience and Necessary and the NEB’s subsequent environmental assessment did not adequately consider risks posed to aquatic birds in the Salish Sea by the proposed pipeline expansion. You can read more about Nature Canada’s past involvement here and here.

Want to do more to protect wildlife in the Salish Sea? Sign our petition asking Minister McKenna to protect the Southern Resident Orcas of the Salish Sea from tanker traffic via an Emergency Order under the Species at Risk Act.

Sharkwater Extinction – A Beautiful and Heartbreaking Tribute
News

Sharkwater Extinction – A Beautiful and Heartbreaking Tribute

On October 3rd 2018, I attended the Special Advance Screening of Sharkwater Extinction – an action-packed journey following late filmmaker Rob Stewart across four continents in his attempt to investigate the illegal shark fin industry that is leading to the global extinction of sharks. This movie is a beautiful tribute to Rob Stewart and his tireless efforts to conserve sharks. The imagery engaged is stunningly gorgeous – it draws you into the mysterious aquatic world and evokes compassion for the world’s oldest creatures. The film is heart-wrenching as it tells the story of violence inflicted upon sharks daily. Sharkwater Extinction highlights the fact that over 100 million sharks are killed each year. This mass-slaughter has resulted in a 90% decline in shark populations over the last 30 years. Sharks are illegally killed for their fins to be used in shark-fin soup. Many sharks are also caught accidentally as by-catch in fishing operations – a heartbreaking truth demonstrated by footage of sharks caught in fishing nets off the coast of Los Angeles. Alarmingly, it seems sharks are also being caught purposely to be relabeled as “ocean whitefish,” sold at supermarkets and used in products such as cat food and cosmetics. Rob’s first movie, Sharkwater, exposed the issue of shark finning for shark fin soup and resulted in changes to laws and public policy in over 90 countries worldwide. Although the finning of sharks is banned in Canadian waters, the import of sharks is not banned. Lawmakers are currently working to change this and increase protections for sharks in Canadian law.

Nature lovers, conservationists and movie lovers alike will enjoy the beautiful and heartbreaking film. Sharkwater Extinction will be in Canadian theatres on October 19!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fMB7f_38dco

NEB Will Consider Impacts of Trans Mountain Pipeline-Related Shipping on Marine Birds
News

NEB Will Consider Impacts of Trans Mountain Pipeline-Related Shipping on Marine Birds

The National Energy Board has done right in deciding to consider impacts of marine shipping on marine birds in its reconsideration of the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion. As previously announced, Nature Canada and Nature BC, represented by Pacific Center for Environmental Law and Litigation, are intervening in the NEB’s reconsideration hearings. In our latest submission to the NEB, we argued that it must consider impacts to aquatic birds. Recently, the NEB issued a series of decisions regarding the hearing process for the Trans Mountain Pipeline reconsideration. The NEB’s decision related to (1) marine birds; (2) cross-examination; (3) “project” boundaries; and (4) broader consideration of mitigation measures.

Consideration of Impact on Marine Birds

In its recent decision, the NEB decided to consider impacts of project-related shipping and potential spills on marine birds, and specifically asked Trans Mountain and various government authorities to provide evidence related to these impacts. This is a win for marine birds and for Nature Canada, who has long-held that the NEB has never adequately considered birds and key Important Bird Areas such as Boundary Bay along the tanker route in the Salish Sea.

Procedure for NEB Hearing: Cross Examination

The NEB said that the hearing process will follow the same model as the original hearing. The NEB will accept written evidence from parties and interveners and oral evidence connected to Indigenous knowledge. Oral final arguments may be heard in January if the NEB considers it necessary and there is time.

Definition of “Project” Boundaries

The NEB defined the spatial limit of Project-related marine shipping for which they will consider potential impacts: the distance between the Westridge Marine Terminal in Burrard Inlet and the 12-nautical mile boundary of Canada's territorial sea. There is still some uncertainty on whether the NEB will consider the environmental impacts of an oil spill that occurs outside the territorial sea even if the effects of the spill travel into Canadian waters.

NEB May Consider Broad Mitigation Measures

The NEB said that its consideration will “include” the matters for which it had originally found significant adverse environmental effects. This means that the NEB may not limit itself to those matters and may consider wider impacts of project-related shipping and oil spills.

Support our written legal submission to the National Energy Board hearings today! Be a voice for nature that cannot speak for itself!

Take Me Outside Day
News

Take Me Outside Day

Nature Canada is pleased to support Take Me Outside Day, an initiative that encourages educators and schools across Canada to extend its classroom outdoors and provide opportunities for students to explore and learn in an outdoor setting. It is a day to highlight the importance of spending time outside, being physically active and connecting with nature. On October 24th, teachers are encouraged to commit to taking students outside for at least an hour to engage in fun and creative activities. It can be as simple as extending recess, to spending the morning playing games and exploring in the schoolyard. Take Me Outside has developed a list of ideas and activities teachers can do with their students on their website. This initiative is a great way to incorporate nature-based learning into the school day. One idea is to run a NatureBlitz in the schoolyard to engage students in hands-on learning about local biodiversity. Nature Canada has developed a do-it-yourself Toolkit for educators to deliver NatureBlitz events and encourage students to explore nature in their schoolyard. The NatureBlitz Toolkit includes resources and activities grounded in the natural sciences that can be incorporated in a variety of curriculum objectives. Take Me Outside Day aligns perfectly with our NatureHood program, which is all about connecting urban children and youth to nature right where they live – we call this nearby nature.  In your backyard, local park or schoolyard, you can find nature almost anywhere! To learn more about Take Me Outside Day or to sign up, visit their website.

Ants in Autumn – Nature Notes
News

Ants in Autumn – Nature Notes

Retired Harvard professor and entomologist Dr. Edward O. Wilson, now 89, is the undisputed world expert on ants. He has spent his entire life studying them and has written and published a long list of books and many scientific articles about his findings. In this Nature Notes essay about these fascinating insects I draw heavily on Wilson’s insights and several other sources in an attempt to summarize what we know about these interesting creatures. Ants cover the planet in almost unimaginable numbers – a million billion by Wilson’s conservative estimate. They are found everywhere, except in polar cold, but it is in the tropics that ants achieve spectacular diversity. There are 10,000 named species of them worldwide, and likely another 10,000 unnamed ones. Canada has more than 100 species of ants, and there are 93 species in Ontario. Ants are a complex and fascinating group of insects. In terms of numbers and individuals they are the most abundant six-legged insects on Earth, making up about 10% of the total animal mass. One hectare of rainforest contains more than nine million ants. They dominate a wide range of habitats, including arid deserts, frozen tundra – and kitchen garbage cans. Ants are related to bees and wasps and are completely social insects, dependant on others in their colony for survival. They pass through life in four stages – egg, larva, pupa and adult. They are well adapted for life underground because they are almost entirely blind. Their life is run by chemical smells and tastes. Ants are generally easy to recognize; their colour is usually black, dark brown, red, or tan. Depending on the species, their size can range from 1 to 13 mm in length, with some exceptions. Like all insects, the body of an ant is divided in three distinct parts: head, thorax and abdomen. The thorax is joined to the abdomen by constricted petioles, also known as nodes. All ants have three pairs of legs used for walking, and they do not have wings, except for the reproductive swarming ants, which have two pairs of functional wings used for mating flights. Ants are social insects that live in sophisticated societies, colonies with populations often reaching hundreds of thousands. Most ant colonies build nests in soil. Some species, like the carpenter ant, tunnel into wood to create nesting chambers. A colony functions as a single organism, centered about the queen, who is the mother of the colony. Her task is to constantly lay eggs to keep the colony populated. Most colonies have only one queen and will die when she dies, although in some species a colony can have several queens. Most other colonies’ numbers can vary from 100,000 to 250,000 individuals. A typical ant colony consists of three distinct social castes: the queen, drones, and workers. To establish new colonies, ants undertake nuptial flights: swarms of winged sexual ants depart the nest in search of another location and mate for about 30 minutes. The males die shortly thereafter, along with most of the females. A small percentage of the females survive to initiate new nests. Pharaoh ant workers live only a few weeks. Workers of many other ant species can live up to three years. Most queens live more than five years. An anthill, in its simplest form, is a pile of earthsandpine needles, clay, or a composite of these and other materials that build up at the entrances of the subterranean dwellings of ant colonies. Legions of worker ants carry tiny bits of dirt and pebbles in their mandibles and deposit them near the exit of the colony.  They normally deposit the material at the top of a hill to prevent it from sliding back into the colony, but some species sculpt the materials into specific shapes and may create nest chambers within the mound. Some ant behaviour is truly remarkable. Fire ants build rafts with their bodies to escape floods. Others, again using their bodies, build towers. Ants have no architectural plans, they operate on a few rules, such as “wander aimlessly upward and if you find a non-moving ant, attach yourself to it and become a building block.” They build tower structures on wide rings at the bottom and narrow rings at the top, spreading out the weight so that any individual ant has only to support the weight of three other ants. Another striking thing about ants is that some of them just sit around doing nothing. Researchers at Georgia Tech studied groups of 30 colour-coded ants digging tunnels. About 30% of them did 70% of the work. Others did very little or nothing. Interestingly, when the researchers removed the hard-working ants, some of the previously less active ants stepped up and began working harder. Ants are also better traffic engineers than humans. They never run into stop-and-go traffic or gridlock on their trails. If an ant comes across a blockage on the road, it will pick up the obstacle, move it off the road and continue walking, making sure that traffic is not interrupted. There never is a traffic jam. Although the brains of ants are smaller than pinheads, they are engineering their highways and adjusting road traffic. They establish routes from their nests to their foraging areas, then straighten out the roads, maintain them, and create shortcuts. While on the road, they adjust where they go and how fast they go. One of the key roles that ants display in an ecosystem is dispersing seeds. European fire ants are very good at that, better than native woodland ants. A new study from the University of Toronto suggests that European fire ants are also helping to spread an invasive plant, the greater celandine. Most ant species found in Canada are omnivorous, feeding on a wide range of food sources. The dietary requirements of ants change throughout the year, depending on the season and needs of the colony. During mating season, from spring and into the summer, the colony requires ample protein to facilitate the development of the maturing larvae. Consequently, the ants forage for food high in protein, including preying on other arthropods and small invertebrates during this time of the year. As the summer continues, the colony begins to focus on preparing the nest for winter or relocating to a suitable overwintering site. Due to the energy needed to perform such tasks, ants switch from a protein-based diet to one primarily consisting of carbohydrates. The varied diet of ants regularly includes fungi, plants and organic matter, seeds, and a wide range of food items stored and consumed by humans, as well. Common structure-infesting ant species found in Canada include the black carpenter ant, pavement ant, pharaoh ant, odorous house ant, Argentine ant, and thief ant. Pavement ants, depending on the location of nests, can be a bit of a nuisance, especially if nesting indoors. Reddish pharaoh ants are another indoor nuisance pest, often attracted to foods high in protein and sugar. They commonly nest in small cavities inside furniture or behind baseboards. Carpenter ants build colonies of 3,000 or more. They are drawn to damp areas, easy-to-chew wood, often around window sills and door frames. Controlling ant predators of crops or pests in a home is a daunting challenge. Despite the vulnerability to cold (these insects do not thrive in temperatures below 20 degree Celsius) ants are remarkably hardy. Some can survive flooding. One species can live up to 14 days submerged in water! Peaceful ant colonies flourish at a greater rate than warring colonies. By studying pairs of colonies, scientists observed that after 70 days, non-aggressive colony pairs had significantly higher population numbers than combating colony pairs. Ants thrive as a cooperative female society. Perhaps these are messages we should think about. S.G.


Help fight for nature in Canada today by supporting Nature Canada as we protect wildlife species from coast, to coast, to coast.


Sources: Canadian Wildlife Federation, Ontario Nature, Wild City (Bennet & Tiner), The Green Book (Gahbauer), E.O. Wilson, articles and personal filed notes. Nature Notes are posted as blogs on the website of Nature Canada. Earlier editions are archived on the websites of the Rouge Valley Conservation Centre and of the Rouge Valley Naturalists.
 

Oil industry, Notley opposition to Bill C-69 “wildly inaccurate,” environmental groups say  Pushback is an attempt to bypass crucial environmental oversight
News

Oil industry, Notley opposition to Bill C-69 “wildly inaccurate,” environmental groups say Pushback is an attempt to bypass crucial environmental oversight

For immediate release - October 4, 2018 OTTAWA - A number of Canada’s leading environmental groups are calling out the oil and gas industry and other critics of Bill C-69 for what they say is false rhetoric about important improvements to key environmental laws. “There has been a lot of rubbish circulating about Bill C-69,” says Anna Johnston, a staff lawyer with the West Coast Environmental Law Association. “A very small, very vocal group out of the oilpatch has been spreading wildly inaccurate claims in order to kill some critical fixes to our environmental laws.” Bill C-69 introduces a new Impact Assessment Act to replace the existing Canadian Environmental Assessment Act 2012 (CEAA 2012), and reconfigures the National Energy Board. “These changes are not major,” says Josh Ginsberg, Director of Legislative Affairs at Ecojustice Canada. “The Impact Assessment Act is largely modelled on legislation we’ve had for decades, with some key improvements designed to enhance environmental protection while streamlining the process for proponents. And the Canadian Energy Regulator Act does not ‘kill’ the National Energy Board, as many are claiming. It simply gives the NEB a new name and adds some much-needed accountability measures.” Critics of the Bill state that it directs the government to consider too many potential effects of proposals, like climate impacts. Last week, Alberta Premier Rachel Notley cautioned that the Bill may amount to jurisdictional overreach because it requires the government to consider the social and health effects of projects, a claim that lawyers say is unfounded. “Nonsense,” says Stephen Hazell, Director of conservation and general counsel with Nature Canada. “Canada has been assessing the social and health impacts of projects for decades. The Supreme Court of Canada has affirmed the federal government’s constitutional authority to do so, and for almost 20 years our original environmental assessment law listed health and social considerations as factors to consider. This isn’t new.” The Bill has also been under fire for requiring consideration of the documented gendered impacts of resource development, for example when there is an influx of largely male workers to work on a project, something Johnston says is concerning. “Natural resource development tends to disproportionately impact women. That’s a fact. To suggest that we wouldn’t try to avoid things like increased sexual assault and teen pregnancy is frankly quite shocking,” she says. The previous federal government introduced CEAA 2012 at the request of the oil and gas industry, buried in omnibus “budget” Bill C-38 with no consultation or amendments. “Climate polluters already tried in 2012 to game the project review process and silence public input, but their attempts backfired and led to the gridlock we see today,” says Patrick DeRochie, Climate and Energy Program Manager with Environmental Defence. “In 2015, Canadians handed the federal government a strong mandate to repair and strengthen their environmental safety net. The oil and gas industry is going to have to learn to play by the rules, just like everyone else.” Bill C-69 follows more than two years of consultations, including public reviews by parliamentary committees and two independent expert panels. All affected industry sectors, environmental groups, the public and Indigenous peoples were invited to engage on multiple successive proposals before the Bill was drafted, and a House of Commons committee heard from over 100 witnesses. “The petroleum industry may not have gotten everything it wanted, but neither did we,” says Lindsay Telfer, National Director, Canadian Freshwater Alliance “We are not supporting this legislation because it is exactly what we want, we are supporting it because it reflects a compromise we can live with, one that meets the needs of all sectors and Canadians.” Bill C-69 is currently being reviewed by the Senate and is expected to pass early next year. -30-


For more information, please contact: Anna Johnston | Staff Lawyer, West Coast Environmental Law Association 604-340-2304, ajohnston@wcel.org (in Ottawa) Stephen Hazell | Director of Conservation and General Counsel, Nature Canada 613-724-1908, shazell@naturecanada.ca Supporting organizations: West Coast Environmental Law Association, Nature Canada, Ecojustice, Environmental Defence Canada, Canadian Freshwater Alliance, Centre québécois du droit de l'environnement (CQDE)
 

Tree Swallow Housing
News

Tree Swallow Housing

Easily recognizable by its iridescent feathers, the Tree Swallow is a treat for anyone fortunate enough to have these magnificent songbirds on their property. As such, many Canadians provide housing for the Tree Swallow in the spring – a necessity for the cavity-nesting swallow that cannot dig their own holes. Unfortunately, improper stewardship techniques often result in more deaths than successful broods. One of the most common misconceptions is that Tree Swallows can safely nest in bluebird boxes. This is untrue as, even though the swallow is smaller than the bluebird, the swallow lays a larger brood of eggs. These eggs – once hatched do not have enough room and often get trampled by older siblings in the struggle to feed. For the layout of a properly dimensioned Tree Swallow nest box, click here. This layout can be used to build your own nest box in your very own yard. However, once the housing is acquired the work of a good steward does not end. Nature Canada has provided a list of Beneficial Management Practices that property owners can follow to ensure the success of the Tree Swallows on their property. It is also important to note that even though Bluebirds and Tree Swallows may compete for cavity spaces, it is also possible to place nest boxes in a way that can benefit both species. To learn more about the proper management techniques for both species, click here.

Purple Martin House
News

Purple Martin House

Purple Martins have a long and rich history of relying on housing provided by humans during the breeding season. Evidence suggests that the Indigenous Peoples of North America started hanging hollowed gourds high on poles to attract these magnificent creatures. In return, the birds would provide population control for the abundant flying insects. This was obviously a successful relationship – to the point where Purple Martin have now evolved to ONLY use human provided housing for nesting. Using hollowed out gourds (plastic or natural) are still commonplace in providing housing for Purple Martin. However, there have been many advancements made in the available housing complexes for these magnificent creatures. One example of such is the T-14 housing complex. These condominium style housing have features that provide a better chance for Purple Martin to successfully face off the natural elements and other animals in their efforts to breed successfully. However, as any experienced martin property owner will tell you, a housing complex can only take you so far. A successful reproduction cycle relies tremendously on the efforts and vigilance of the colony’s steward themselves. To learn more about what practices you can implement to help Purple Martins, visit Nature Canada’s Beneficial Management Practices page, by clicking here. To learn more about the different housing available for you and your colony of Purple Martin, click the following links below:

About Purple Martins
News

About Purple Martins

Screen Time Vs Green Time:  New Report Shows Too Much Screen Time Is Hurting Canada’s Kids
News

Screen Time Vs Green Time: New Report Shows Too Much Screen Time Is Hurting Canada’s Kids

For Immediate Release - Monday, November 26, 2018

Ottawa – A new report released today exposes the negative health impacts excessive screen time is having on Canadian children. Screen Time vs Green Time: The Health Impacts of Too Much Screen Time by Nature Canada outlines the dramatic shift in the way Canadian kids and teens are spending their time today, with both physical and mental health repercussions. When our parents told us to go play outside, they were actually giving us great health advice,” says Jill Sturdy, NatureHood Program Manager with Nature Canada. “Unfortunately, today excessive screen use is not only robbing our kids of memories playing in the outdoors, it is hurting our kids’ health.

Some key findings of the report include

  • The vast majority of Canadian children are exceeding the recommended screen time guideline;
  • 85% of children aged 5-17 do not meet the guidelines for adequate sleep, physical activity and screen time;
  • Adolescents who spent more time on social media and smartphones were more likely to report mental health issues such as anxiety and depression;
  • Outdoor play in nature is essential for healthy child development.
We are seeing a downward trend in the amount of physical activity children are getting in a day as a result of sedentary behaviour linked to screen time,” states Dr. Mark Tremblay, Director of the Healthy Active Living and Obesity Research Group at the CHEO Research Institute in Ottawa, and professor at the University of Ottawa. The long-term impacts of excessive screen time, prolonged sedentary behaviour and physical inactivity  include increased risk of metabolic and cardiovascular issues, such as type-2 diabetes and heart disease, and time in nature and the outdoors is an easy antidote to these consequences of modern living,” he says. Excessive screen time is also costing our children sleep, which is essential for healthy development. Electronic devices in bedrooms and excessive digital light exposure late at night are linked to short sleep duration, sleep deprivation and sleep disorders among Canadian children. Dr. Michael Cheng, a psychiatrist at CHEO and a professor at the University of Ottawa, says he is concerned with the increased demands for mental health services to help with anxiety and depression, and the link to excessive use of screens. In his own practice, Dr. Cheng prescribes nature to help with the epidemic of anxiety and depression. Families that spend meaningful time together in nature will rediscover the most powerful anti-depressant – getting outside and connecting with each other,” says Cheng. The report shows that being active outdoors in nature helps children manage stress, improve moods and reduce anxiety. Along with positive health outcomes, children who spend time in nature are more likely to develop a lifelong love and appreciation for nature. The good news here is that the solution to too much screen time is right outside our front doors,” said Sturdy. Click HERE to read the REPORT. Click HERE to read the Tip Sheet for parents to reduce screen time and get into nature. -30- For more information, please contact: Haley Ritchie | Communications Specialist, Nature Canada 613-558-0280 (cell) 613 562-3447 ext. 252 hritchie@naturecanada.ca
About Nature Canada: Nature Canada is the country’s oldest conservation charity and has more than 90,000 members and supporters. Since 1939 the organization has worked to protect 63 million acres of parks and wildlife areas in Canada and countless species that depend on this habitat. For more information go to www.naturecanada.ca
 

Want to Help?

Canada’s wilderness is the world’s envy. It’s our duty to keep our true north strong and green.

Donate