Concerned citizen saves endangered trees

Most of our work to protect nature takes a long time to bear fruit. We can spend more than a year involved in an environmental assessment, like the one for EnCana’s project at Suffield NWA, or we can campaign for more than a decade to establish a new law or a new national park. So when our actions and those of our supporters have an immediate impact, we celebrate!

On October 22nd we got a call from a resident of Erieau, Ontario. She was concerned that a sand dune area in her community, that has hoptrees and other species at risk, was being cleared by construction work. It appeared the developers had obtained a permit, so she wasn’t sure what, if anything, she could do. We put together some contacts for her to try, including experts who are working with the government to recover this species, and friends from local naturalist clubs. She made a few calls that afternoon, and the next morning, an environmental enforcement officer from the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources showed up with an order to stop all development at the site. Our friend was thrilled and so were we! Only one third of the (approximately 400 square feet) area had been cleared and the majority of the hoptrees were saved! There are an estimated 875 to 1,025 mature individuals of the Common Hoptree in Canada, so every single one counts.
The Common Hoptree Ptelea trifoliata is listed as threatened under the Species at Risk Act and under Ontario’s Endangered Species Act 2007. Experts identify loss of habitat (primarily through cottage development), replacement of indigenous vegetation by cultivated plants, intensive beach grooming, and the construction of seawalls and other structures as the main threats to the Common Hoptree.
Few people are aware that there are many endangered species and habitats in Canada, and the authorities face many challenges to ensure all these species and habitats are not harmed. So we are lucky that there are naturalists out there who can identify species at risk and are willing to take the time to try to save them when they are threatened. To our friend in Erieau, we say: thanks for caring!