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Dispatches from Noway Lake: Home is where the bats are
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Dispatches from Noway Lake: Home is where the bats are

[caption id="attachment_34825" align="alignleft" width="150"]kathleen-1 Kathleen Lippa, Guest Blogger[/caption]  This blog is written by guest blogger Kathleen Lippa. It’s been five years since my husband and I installed a bat house (or bat box, as they are often called) near our house on Norway Lake, in the heart of the Ottawa Valley. I’m now thinking about moving it - maybe attaching the bat box to the side of our house. I invite readers knowledgeable about bat houses to weigh in on this. I’ve come to deeply respect bats since moving to the lake. The well-being of bats is vital to the health of our ecosystem. I once believed myths about bats being blood-thirsty neck-chompers. And yes, bats can be dangerous - they can carry rabies, so care is needed when dealing with them. But since connecting with nature out at Norway Lake, I understand how desperately our planet needs bats. Their insect and pest control abilities are well documented and much appreciated (Bat Conservation International has been a wonderful resource for me). Bats pollinate plants, and disperse seeds brilliantly. And their poo, or guano, is an effective plant fertilizer. When I first encountered bats in our loft I was terrified. The last one I dealt with was a Little brown bat who was wedged in our door frame, and flew in during a power outage. After screaming and waving my arms around a lot, I got a large cooking pot, put it over the bat when it was sleeping (hanging upside down on our window screen at dawn) and slid a piece of cardboard over top to get him outside. Those sharp little claws ( I should have worn gloves) and high-pitched wailing was ghastly. He was just as scared as I was. Probably more. But we got him back in nature, where he belongs. testThe next step was: How to keep bats out? I soon realized that the question should be, how to get them IN to their own safe situation. We talked to our neighbors about bats, and they wisely recommended getting a local craftsperson to build us a bat box. I was clueless about the process. I have since learned that bat boxes or houses can be incredibly helpful to the survival of bats. The Little Brown Bat, which we have at our lake, can be found naturally roosting under bridges, eaves, abandoned mines, and rock ledges. There are only two species of bats in Ontario that are known to use human structures as summer maternity colony habitat and Little Brown Bats is one of those species. They are listed as endangered, as it is threatened by White-nose Syndrome. White-nose syndrome is a fungus that spreads on a bat’s skin and causes a white, fuzzy appearance on the nose, wings or ears. The fungus infects bats’ winter hibernation cycle as it causes them to use up body fat supplies before spring when they once again go looking for food. For their own bat house, this is what I’ve learned so far: A bat house must be near a water source. On this, we get full marks, right next to a lake. It should be 12 to 20 feet off the ground. The house needs full sun at least four hours a day. It also should be painted black – keeps the heat in better. In our climate, this is important. And it should be near a mix of agriculture. Again, Norway Lake ticks that box. There are a number of specific design details going on inside the house our box maker followed, keeping in line with Bat Conservation International guidelines. Where I’m looking to improve is the location of the house itself. Right now, it’s mounted on a tree. This is not great, as predators such as cats and other animals could disturb this home. I would also like it mounted on a slant to prevent babies from falling out when they initially leave the tight cling of their mothers. I’ve also read that erecting a number of bat boxes together can increase likelihood of successful bat roosting, especially in a generally cool climate like ours in the Ottawa Valley. I will have to see how this can be achieved.

What YOU can do to help bats:

>Report bat sightings that strike you as unusual, and worth investigating. Knowledge is power. The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry tracks species at risk/in danger like the Little Brown Bat. You can report any unusual bat behaviour or deaths to the Canadian Cooperative Wildlife Health Centre at 1-866-673-4781 of the Natural Resources Information Centre at 1-800-667-1940. >Be a good steward - build a bat box! www.batcon.org is a wealth of helpful information about the proper construction of bat houses. In future blogs from Norway Lake, I will let you know what we are doing about our bat house, and if moving it has made a difference. Ideally, hundreds of bats would roost there, and we continue to do our bit for the environment.

Women for Nature 2017 Parliamentary Reception
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Women for Nature 2017 Parliamentary Reception

On October 23, 2017, Nature Canada's Board and staff were pleased to celebrate women’s leadership for nature at the Women for Nature reception held on Parliament Hill. With many guests finding opportunities to meet other female leaders and reconnect with friends and former colleagues, the evening revolved around spirited conversation and inspiring stories of personal connections to nature. The new Chair of Women for Nature, Senator Diane Griffin reflected on her many decades of work as a conservationist and other environmentalists she has worked alongside such as the Chair of Nature Canada, Bob Peart,  MP Elizabeth May, Nature Canada Director, Cliff Wallis and MP Linda Duncan.  She was delighted to meet the Young Nature leaders in attendance for the reception, thanks to the support of the Canadian Parks Council, Parks Canada and Cottonwood Consulting.  Senator Griffin highlighted some of the various nature based projects that our Young Women for Nature – Olivia DesRoches from Hampton, NB, Martha Henderson from Whitehorse, YK, Caroline Merner from Vancouver, BC, and Chantal Tempelman from Cochrane, AB have lead on this past year. [caption id="attachment_35169" align="aligncenter" width="900"]Image of Women for Nature photo by Senate of Canada (L) Honourable Senator Diane Griffin, Olivia DesRoches, Martha Henderson, Honourable Senator Rosa Galvez, Caroline Merner, Chantal Templeman and Geneviève Zaloum with Celeste (Owl) (R). Photo credit: Senate of Canada[/caption] She remarked, “These young women and their projects are a step in the right direction to help enable more young Canadians to connect with nature and assist in protecting our precious wildlife and habitats.” Senator Rosa Galvez also shared her personal experiences about being a champion for nature and her one wish is to never again have to “clean up environmental messes”.  She reminded us that there is “no Planet B”. She spoke about the need to be “stubborn” to be successful in your career, as she experienced.  This served her well and she encouraged the young women to be strong voices for nature. Nature Canada Board Director and Women for Nature co-chair, Dr. Brenda Kenny thanked all the founding members of Women for Nature for being excellent champions of Nature Canada’s work to connect more Canadians to nature.  She also thanked them for their innovative incubators projects, E-Dialogues on Biodiversity, and the Young Nature Leaders bursaries and mentorships launched in this special anniversary year.  She also introduced 4 of our Young Women for Nature mentees who were able to join in the celebrations. [caption id="attachment_35174" align="aligncenter" width="900"]Image of Brenda Kelly Brenda Kelly at the podium. Photo credit to Senate of Canada[/caption] Caroline Merner spoke on behalf of our youth leaders about how excited they are to be paired with a Woman for Nature mentor and appreciate that Women for Nature understands the importance of engaging youth to take action for nature’s future.

Minister McKenna, who was instrumental in assisting Women for Nature promote the Young Nature leaders grant, also spoke at the reception about the importance of people connecting with nature and was delighted to personally meet and hear about some of the nature based programs that the Young Women for Nature are undertaking to connect other youth to nature.

Guests also visited with Celeste, a great horned owl who represents the beautiful and unique biodiversity that we all appreciate and want to protect. Nature Canada’s new Executive Director Graham Saul, thanked all the guests and sponsors for attending the evening’s celebration. He remarked it is an especially opportune time to seek great advances on behalf of nature through strengthening of our environmental laws and securing more wilderness protection to meet our international commitments by 2020. We encourage other professional women to get involved with Women for Nature to champion biodiversity conservation, help connect youth to nature and mentor future leaders for nature. Contact us (jjoy@naturecanada.ca) to learn more.

To read more on the event and see more photos, click here.

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School kids get up close and personal with birds of prey
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School kids get up close and personal with birds of prey

[caption id="attachment_30818" align="alignleft" width="150"]Jill Sturdy Jill Sturdy, NatureHood Program Manager[/caption] On October 23rd over 1,000 Ottawa elementary school kids got to meet Elvis, an American kestrel and his friend Celeste, a Great-horned owl for an up close and personal presentation on birds of prey. Nature Canada worked with Falcon-Ed, a company specializing in falconry, to visit 4 schools in Ottawa to meet Elvis and Celeste, and present information about birds of prey and the important role they play in the ecosystem – including in the students’ own NatureHood. NatureHood is about connecting urban Canadians, particularly children, to nearby nature. Although over 85% of Canadians live in urban centres, there are still so many opportunities to explore nature in their neighbourhoods, or NatureHoods. Both American Kestrels and Great-horned Owls can be found in and around the Ottawa area, so having Elvis and Celeste as ambassadors help raise awareness of nearby nature and the many different wildlife species that live in the area. [caption id="attachment_35164" align="alignright" width="421"]Image of Jill and Falcon Ed Jill Sturdy and Celeste (Great Horned Owl). Photo by Jill Sturdy[/caption] Students learned what features make a bird of prey (carnivores with sharp talons and curved beaks), and found out what the Great-horned Owl’s favourite prey is (hint – you don’t want to get too close to these black and white critters or they’ll spray you with a powerful stink!). When asked how many students love being out in nature, it was unanimous – they all do! And their reaction to the birds of prey only reinforced their interest and excitement for nature. Nature Canada is the voice for Nature, and we hope that up-close wildlife presentations like these, along with direct experience in nature will help foster the next generation of nature lovers. Thank you to St. Monica, Regina Street Alternative, Our Lady of Fatima and Woodroffe Ave Public schools for inviting Nature Canada and Falcon-ed to talk about birds of prey and nearby nature. This is the time of year when the owls start looking for a mate, so it’s a great time to get out and explore in your NatureHood, and you just might hear a hoot!


Falcon-ed is a company that specializes in falconry, training birds of prey, ecological control and educational presentations. A trained falconer and biologist handles the birds of prey, who are all born in captivity and have been specially trained for presentations. You can learn more at: http://fauconeduc.biz/
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Sheila Copps Moderates Panel on Strengthening of Canada’s Environmental Laws
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Sheila Copps Moderates Panel on Strengthening of Canada’s Environmental Laws

[caption id="attachment_22697" align="alignleft" width="150"]Image of Stephen Hazell Stephen Hazell
Director of Conservation
and General Counsel[/caption] On October 25, Nature Canada, West Coast Environmental Law Association, MiningWatch Canada, and Ecojustice hosted a  reception and panel discussion on Parliament Hill to discuss reforms to Canada’s environmental assessment laws.  Our groups firmly take the view that the current process is not working for the public, Indigenous peoples, industry or the environment (hello Trans-Mountain and Energy East pipeline projects!) leading to conflict, uncertainty and environmental risk. The panel was moderated by Hon. Sheila Copps, a former Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Environment, who introduced the session by stating that bringing the federal environmental assessment law into force in 1995 was one of her most important achievements in public life. Jonathan Wilkinson, Parliamentary Secretary to the Environment Minister, opened by summarizing the government’s perspective, noting that the federal government intends to introduce new legislation to assess the impacts of proposed development and policies into the House of Commons later this year or early 2018. Speakers on the panel included Anna Johnston, West Coast Environmental Law Association; Pierre Gratton, Mining Association of Canada and Sara Mainville, Olthuis Kleer Townshend LLP; who brought forward environmentalist, industry and indigenous perspectives on the legislative reforms that are needed., Linda Duncan, NDP Environment Critic, and Bob Sopuck, Conservative member of the House of Commons Environment Committee, also provided the perspective of their respective parties. The hosting groups, including Nature Canada, take the view that the new law should include the following elements (among others!):

  1. Sustainability Approach – A new law must include a legislated test, criteria and trade-off rules that determine whether proposed undertakings are the best option for achieving environmental, economic and social sustainability (including climate commitments). A sustainability approach to assessing impacts will lead to better natural resource development, and not just development that is less bad.
  2. Triggering of Projects – A new law must require assessment of all proposed undertakings that are significant to the achievement of federal environmental commitments such as those under the Paris Climate Agreement and the Biodiversity Convention.  High-carbon projects, projects proposed for National Parks and National Wildlife Areas, and projects requiring federal regulatory approvals under key environmental laws such as the Fisheries Act and Species at Risk Act must be assessed by law.
  3. Legal Entrenchment of Strategic and Regional Impact Assessment – A new law must include a legislative framework for assessing the sustainability implications of proposed federal policies (Strategic Impact Assessment) and the cumulative effects associated with alternative development scenarios in regions facing significant pressures (Regional Impact Assessment).
  4. Single Federal Agency – A new law must establish a single independent agency responsible for the conduct of federal impact assessments. The National Energy Board, Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, and offshore oil and gas boards should not authority to conduct impact assessments.
The event was a great success with 100 participants, including as many as twenty Members of Parliament and several journalists. My sense was that the event put environmental assessment law on the radar screen for political Ottawa, which is where it needs to be!
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The 2017 Nature Photo Contest winner is…
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The 2017 Nature Photo Contest winner is…

[caption id="attachment_34972" align="aligncenter" width="636"]Image of Grizzly Bear by Kinan Echtay The Grizzly Bear by Kinan Echtay[/caption] “It was an idyllic early spring morning, winter had not relinquished its grip on the landscape and snow still covered the ground. I was out on one of my weekly photography outings in search of some of the local wildlife and on this particular weekend, I had set my sights on the beautiful mountainscape of Kananaskis country. I had been out for many hours to no avail and had decided to call it a day. I can remember saying to myself what perfect light if only I had something to photograph, at that very moments I saw some movement out of the corner of my eye, my heart beat hastened I turned camera at the ready. My efforts had been rewarded and a large grizzly stroller out of the thick brush and began to route through the bushes in search of the fresh spring foliage to snack on after a long winter's hibernation. He graced me with his presence for just a few moments before disappearing back into the brush, just long enough for me to capture this moment. Photography has been a huge part of my life for as long as I can remember and it is for these very moments that I strive for and keep me going out whenever the opportunity presents its self." - Kinan Echtay

A picture can mean a thousand words

What does nature mean to you? How do you articulate the feeling of being in nature? Often times it is nearly impossible to describe the feeling of being in the presence of wildlife or surrounded by wilderness. Sometimes the best way to share these feelings with others is not necessarily through words but with a picture. They say a picture is worth a thousand words. When hoping to inspire others to feel that ineffable connection to nature, a photo is invaluable. Thank you to everyone who submitted your amazing nature photos to the Nature Photo Contest! We were stunned by all of the beauty of nature and wildlife across Canada! On behalf of the white Snowy Owls, the Green Frogs, the Black Bear, the Red Fox and the Bluebird- thank you! The best pictures always have certain qualities – uniqueness, great colour and balanced composition. The best pictures also have that a strong impact that inspires an emotional connection to the subject. With over 6,500 submissions, it was incredibly difficult to select the top images to include in our 2018 Calendar. Thank you to all of our incredible judges: Honourable Nancy Greene Raine, Meg Beckel, Laura Bombier, Sandy Sharkey, Les Stroud, Michael Tayler and Michelle Valberg. Thank you to Wild Women Expeditions for donating an incredible Canadian nature adventure. Wild Women Expeditions offers a wide variety of outdoor adventures, including canoe and kayak trips, multi-sport adventures, hiking trips and yoga retreats! Congratulations To get your best pictures, we have partnered with Canon Canada for photo contest participants and Nature Canada members to receive an exclusive offer. From October 31- November 13 buy any T6i configuration and use the coupon code CANONNATURE to receive a bonus EOS Rebel T6i Accessory Kit including a 800 SR Bag and 1 Battery Pack. Click here for this exclusive offer. Thank you Canon Canada! Thank you to all of our generous sponsors who donated a number of incredible prizes that will further engage people with nature across Canada. Thank you to Canon Canada; Bird Kingdom; Casa Loma; Digby Pines; Éco-Oyssée; Espace pour la vie Montréal; FortWhyte Alive; Lee Valley; MEC; Museum of Manitoba; ONE AXE Pursuits; Ripleys Aquarium; Sustainable Outdoors co; The Camera Store; Treetop Trekking; White Point Resort; Whynot Adventure; Wild Women Expeditions and Ziptrek Eco Tours!
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Time To Fly South – The Wondrous World Of Bird Migration
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Time To Fly South – The Wondrous World Of Bird Migration

This blog is written by Nature Canada member Steve Gahbauer and edited by Sam Nurse.  The summer peak is now long behind us. The sunlight is a little weaker, the flowers are drooping, the leaves of deciduous trees turn a brilliant colour and darkness creeps a little closer with each passing day. Nature is winding down and fall is here. [caption id="attachment_24879" align="alignright" width="374"]Hooded Merganser Pair Photo from Flickr, Christopher L. Wood[/caption] On crisp fall nights, shoals of Three-spine Sticklebacks sparkle in the moonlight, and Hooded Mergansers will make their annual visit. Noisy Greater Yellowlegs, returning from northern breeding grounds in August, linger until late November. A bit earlier, Ring-billed Gulls, that nest west of the Great Lakes, are winding up their migration to California and Mexico. By late November, Striped Skunks are looking for deep dens to spend the winter. By mid-December the breeding season is over for White-tailed Deer and female Red Foxes look for suitable dens. This is also the time of big bird migration, one of the most extraordinary events in the natural world. It begins at the end of August and ends in late fall. Raptor migration peaks in September and October *. Every year, thousands of birds migrate along the main flyways. The scale of the avian movement is truly awesome. Billions of birds navigate mountains, oceans, deserts and adverse weather systems on their remarkable journeys. Arctic Terns fly some 17,700 kilometres in their circumpolar migration throughout their lifetime between their winter abode in Antarctica and their breeding grounds in northern Canada and Greenland. Non-stop distance flown by Hudsonian Godwits are up to 12,800 km. Semi-palmated Sandpipers fly 96 hours non-stop from the Bay of Fundy to South America. Whimbrels are among nature’s most impressive wayfarers. They breed in the northern wetlands and tundra around James Bay and Hudson Bay and winter more than half a world away in Brazil. A few years ago, one banded Whimbrel was tracked covering 5,057 km in 143 hours at an average flight speed of more than 35 km/h! [caption id="attachment_3748" align="alignleft" width="320"]Image of an Arctic Tern Photo of an Arctic Tern[/caption] Of the birds that breed in Canada, 90% migrate. Shorebirds, like the ones mentioned above, are the most accomplished travellers. For most migrating birds, the journey takes three to four weeks. What helps them to make those long and arduous migrant flights is the way they breathe. Another thing that makes migration flights possible is the great versatility of a bird’s wings. To conserve energy, birds have to do their wing-beating in flight as economically as possible. One simple method of achieving that is to stop beating wings every now and then or regularly interrupt rapid wing beats. Bigger and heavier birds have developed other ways to economize on their wing beats like gliding in flight. Raptors and pelicans are known to do this regularly. With these long migrations, birds are likely to encounter challenges along the way. One challenge for birds is climate change as it can effect them in various ways. It alters their distribution, abundance, behaviour, and even their genetic make-up. Migration and breeding times are changing, the availability of food and nesting material changes, and there may be new parasites and predators to which they are not adapted. Other concerns are degradation and loss of critical stopover sites, such as coastal wetlands. A number of migrating species are already responding to climate change by northward adjustment in their distribution, upwards shift in altitudinal ranges, and earlier breeding seasons. There needs to be a stronger focus on conservation and education. We know so little about our feathered friends, but the mystery of bird migration is slowly being unlocked. With modern technology now allowing us to track even small migratory birds, the opportunities for new discoveries are endless. It is now possible to track birds by satellite, which has revolutionized our understanding of their migration routes and wintering grounds.


* Toronto’s High Park hawk watch ranks with Beijing and Istanbul as one of the world’s three best spots for observing migratory raptors in an urban setting. Other good hawk-watching places include Cranberry Marsh in Whitby, Hawk Cliff and Holiday Beach on Lake Erie near London and Windsor, respectively, the Leslie Spit in Toronto, and East Point Park in Scarborough. Sources: Canadian Wildlife Federation, Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, Parks Canada, Bird Studies Canada, Birdlife International, Ontario Nature, Wild City (Bennet & Tiner), Microsoft eNews, Metro, and field notes. For earlier Nature Notes essays visit www.rougevalleynaturalists.com and click on “Nature Notes.”
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3 Unbelievable Reptiles Right Here In Canada
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3 Unbelievable Reptiles Right Here In Canada

This post was written by guest blogger Sean Feagan. [caption id="attachment_33785" align="alignleft" width="150"]Image of sean feagan Sean Feagan, Guest Blogger[/caption] While Indiana Jones was not a fan of snakes , there is a lot to appreciate about reptiles. Canada's reptiles are a varied bunch in terms of their appearance, life history and ecology. The three main groups, snakes, lizards and turtles, all have bony shells, scaly skin and an ectothermic metabolism, which means that unlike us, their body temperature is largely determined by the external environment. While some reptiles lay soft-shelled "leathery" eggs some are viviparous, meaning they give birth to live young ones. Canada has 49 species of reptiles and the Canadian Herpetological Society has a great overview of each species on its website. Unfortunately, many are either imperiled or vulnerable to decline (33 species are listed on the federal Species at Risk Act with six additional species believed to now be extirpated in Canada). Ontario and British Columbia have the greatest number of species, many of which are endangered. All other Canadian provinces, with the exception of Newfoundland, have reptile populations. While Yukon and Nunavut lack resident reptiles, den sites of red-sided garter snakes have been identified in the Northwest Territories. So what is threatening our reptile species? Unfortunately, there are numerous and often interacting threats afflicting reptiles in Canada, including habitat loss and fragmentation, road mortality, collection as pets, pollution, invasive species, climate change, disease, and human persecution. These threats have reduced the size and geographical extent of many reptile populations throughout Canada. In fact, the Ontario Turtle Conservation Centre recently announced a state of emergency for Ontario's turtles where seven out of eight species are at risk due to the number of road collisions this summer. While all of the reptile species in Canada are interesting and unique in their own ways, here are few of my favourites: Spiny Softshell Turtle With a squat, smooth shell and an elongated snout, the Spiny Softshell Turtle is, well, weird looking. In Canada, this species exists in southern Quebec and Ontario and is listed under the Species at Risk Act as Threatened. It is found in a variety of freshwater habitats, typically in those with a soft substrate and sparse aquatic vegetation. Unfortunately, this one and other related softshell species have been the victims of poachers who sell them to restaurants. To combat this and other threats, captive breeding and release programs are underway in Quebec and in Ontario


[caption id="attachment_34736" align="alignright" width="300"]Image of a Greater Short-Horned Lizard Greater Short-Horned Lizard showing off its camouflage ability at Grasslands National Park (Photo credit: Sean Feagan)[/caption] Greater Short-horned Lizard Among the hoodoos and cacti of the Canadian badlands lives this spiky and diminutive (generally less than 10 cm in length) member of Canada's limited (five species) lizard assemblage. Two populations of this species exist both in southwest Saskatchewan (in and around Grasslands National Park) and in southeastern Alberta (near Medicine Hat). The species is listed in the Species at Risk Act as Endangered and is threatened primarily by habitat loss and alteration from various activities. Worth noting, it has the “charming” ability to shoot blood from its eyes when threatened.
[caption id="attachment_34734" align="alignleft" width="300"]Image of a Five-lined Skink Five-lined Skink at Point Pelee National Park (Photo credit: Sean Feagan).[/caption] Five-lined Skink While many birders travel to Point Pelee National Park to admire migrant songbirds, others may visit the park to see this species. Two populations are recognized in Canada: the Great Lakes / St. Lawrence Population (listed as Special Concern), and the Carolinian Population (listed as Endangered). Younger skinks exhibit interesting colouration with five cream stripes over iridescent green-black bodies and a striking blue tail.
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Helping Nature One Plant at a Time
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Helping Nature One Plant at a Time

[caption id="attachment_18250" align="alignleft" width="146"]image of Sharolyn Mathieu Vettese Sharolyn Mathieu Vettese,
Women for Nature Member[/caption] Featuring Women for Nature member Susan Gosling. Written by fellow Women for Nature member Sharolyn Mathieu Vettese.  Sharolyn: Before I start the interview, I have to know if you are related to Ryan Gosling, the actor. Susan: Oh, God, I wish! No, we don’t exchange Christmas cards. Sharolyn: Now that I got that question out of the way, let’s start. It is very impressive that through the Gosling Foundation, you led the creation of the Gosling Research Institute for Plant Preservation (GRIPP). Why is nature so important to you that you felt you had to fund your own vision of nature? Susan: I grew up in a small northwestern Ontario town on the edge of Lake of the Woods, so I always spent a lot of time outdoors and had a strong connection to nature. My earliest memories are of playing outside, and of my Mother’s garden and the lilac hedge that grew in front of our house. Even now …. many... many years later…whenever I smell fresh cut lilac flowers I instantly go back to my childhood when every spring my Mother always had a big bouquet of fresh lilacs in a crystal vase on the dining room table and the fragrance just filled the air. I guess I would say plants have always been a part of me and in my soul. I can’t imagine a world without plants…. and how sad it would be if future generations were not to experience what I have. [caption id="attachment_35049" align="alignleft" width="150"]Image of Susan Gosling Susan Gosling,
Women for Nature member[/caption] GRIPP was created to help save threatened and endangered species. My husband aptly said “we can despair or we can do what we can while we can,” and that is our mission. The institute has the capability to clone a plant, cryopreserve it, and when needed, take the tissue out of liquid nitrogen and propagate the plant to how many number of plants are needed to reintroduce the plant back into the environment. GRIPP has the capacity to back up all the plants in Canada. We call this process CPR: Conserve Propagate Redistribute. CPR as a model has already been demonstrated successfully with several species and this year for Canada’s 150th year anniversary, GRIPP together with Parks Canada, reintroduced Hill’s Thistle which has been designated as a species at risk.  In June, there were 150 Hill’s Thistles planted in six locations around Tobermory and then monitored to check survival rates.  The results were very good and the plants not only survived but thrived.  A second planting was also done in July a few weeks later to confirm the results of the first planting, and again the Hill’s Thistle did well…other than those that were nibbled by deer.  I think it is safe to say that plants can be successfully reintroduce into their former habitat. (Click here to read more) [caption id="attachment_35056" align="aligncenter" width="834"]Image of Hill's Thistle Hill's Thistle - Wikimedia Commons[/caption] Sharolyn: Is it similar to the reintroduction of Albertan wolves to Yosemite Park? Susan: Not quite.  The climate is changing. Plants have the ability to adapt but sometimes not as quickly as needed and so they may need a little assistance before they disappear forever. Our goal is to help nature by giving it a fighting chance.  What we have seen is that the plants which are reintroduced into the environment are very healthy and vigorous because they came through the process of tissue culturing using optimal growth factors and conditions and this seems to provide a reserve for the new plants to get established and do well…. a kind of head start. We prepare the plants in the lab much like athletes are prepared for a performance.  The process begins with deciding which plant needs the help and then developing a protocol to clone it…cloning is like photocopying because you can produce as many new plants as you need and each will be the same as the others. The second part of the process involves placing the plant’s living tissue into liquid nitrogen which is at minus 196 degrees Celsius.  The tissue can remain there indefinitely or until there is a need to reintroduce this plant at which time the tissue will be unfrozen and then propagated again through tissue culture procedures. As far as we know GRIPP is the only lab in Canada that cryopreserves (freezes) growing buds.  Most labs cryopreserve seed. While this is good because seed will preserve the genetics of the species, but the disadvantages are that the progeny may not be identical to the original and the germination rate of cryopreserved seed can be low. If the technology is optimized well, cryopreserved buds can be warmed up and multiplied in high numbers to reproduce as many identical plants as needed. We call this process CPR….Conserve-Propagate -Redistribute.  Parks Canada is very interested in this model because they can see how it can be applied in many situations. Sharolyn:  That sounds like an appropriate acronym, given the circumstances. Sharolyn:  With climate change underway, how do you think plants are coping? Susan:  Not well.  They have mechanisms to adapt but with rapid climate change it is sometimes difficult for the plants to make changes as quickly as they need to. Sharolyn: I heard that the last stand of elms is in New York Central park, and the only reason they avoided Dutch elm disease is because of the barrier created by all the high-rises that surround them.  When I was there 2 years ago, it was hot, and I thought the trees looked sick. [caption id="attachment_35060" align="aligncenter" width="834"]Image of Elm Elm Leaves - Photo by Scott Mattoon Flickr (CC BY 2.0). Photo Cropped.[/caption] Susan: It is not only the elms that are having a having a hard time.  Here, at the University of Guelph, there is a centurion elm tree that survived when the others did not.  Old pictures show it was one of many trees that were there at one time.  Scientists are investigating the connection between the virulence of the fungus and the fungus being able to turn off the trees’ natural defences. Sharolyn: Any words of wisdom as to how all of us can do our part to help? Susan: We need to put more pressure on governments to enforce, and prosecute people who violate the laws.  Trees and shrubs should be protected, not cut down for a subdivision and then stick in a token tree later.  Most people have no concept that you can’t replace an ecosystem with a few isolated trees.  What are needed are corridors that interact with each other.  An isolated tree here and there does not work.  Sadly, people don’t understand how important trees are. They think existing trees are in the way of progress. Sharolyn: What happened in your life that made you passionate about nature? Susan: There wasn’t just one particular event.  Nature has always been a part of my life.  I have always observed it and enjoyed it. I have tried to impart my excitement of nature to my son who at times did not even realize how much he was learning. My favourite story is of a female mallard duck who laid eight eggs under a juniper which grew close to my house and could be easily seen through a large picture window on the floor above.  My son named her Mabel and the first thing he did when he woke up was to check on Mabel and as many times throughout the day as he could.  He found Mabel fascinating and discovered many of her secrets like when she would leave her nest to feed and drink, she came and went by different routes.  He even observed that she rotated her eggs with her feet and not her bill, which I would guess many birders would not have known for sure.  I think he knew a lot more about nature than he realized. I think this is how it should be…an interest and a curiosity to observe and an emotional connection. Sharolyn: How do you incorporate nature in your life? Susan:  I love that question.  I connect with plants inside and outside.  I always have plants growing and flowering in my house which is particularly wonderful in the winter but I love my trees and shrubs growing outside.  I plant many native trees and shrubs which attract birds and every so often we see something special.  It may be a bird passing through on migration and we feel privileged that this bird spotted our place and wanted to stop. We also have a pond, in fact several ponds with a rill, and to our delight and enjoyment we have toads that like them too.  Each spring we can’t wait to hear the thrill of the trill of courting toads…which is surprisingly loud and can wake you up in the middle of a sound sleep!  A short time after the chorus ceases there will be ribbons and ribbons of toad eggs and then hundreds…or even thousands of toadlets which eventually grow legs and walk away. Image of an American Toad Another joy is to grow Cardinal flowers and have the hummingbirds come in to feed…every time I see those little guys I think how amazing they are. Lastly, I have an extraordinary event occurring on my property…I have ant disturbances which I have decided…to a degree…to coexist with since they are not that close to the house but what is extraordinary and to my amazement is that I have witnessed crows, in fact several of them, land on top of the ant disturbance and literally spread-eagle on top to maximize the surface area of their body to the ground with their wings outstretched.  The first time I saw this I thought the crows were injured but then after a while they got up and flew away.  I saw this repeated many times and for several years.  I think the crows want the ants to crawl over them and get rid of their parasites like an ant bath.  How clever. Sharolyn: That sounds like a similar relationship that the sharks have with remora fish.  I did not know that! Susan: Neither did I, until I saw it! Sharolyn: You have a scientific appreciation of plants with your foundation, but you also recognize the spiritual contribution of plants.  How do plants connect science and spirituality? Susan:  I have to think about that.  It is about how plants make me feel inside.  It is unspoken, and a part of my soul.  When I go for a walk, I find peace.  I find early mornings are particularly magical and peaceful and often when there is dew on the plants there is a certain stillness and calmness in the air.  I also think plants provide for our well-being with food, medicine and shelter. Science is learning in a concrete way, and spirituality is in the soul –an emotional connection. Absolutely I see a connection between science and spirituality. Sharolyn: Does spirituality allow scientists to see the bigger picture? Susan: Yes.  You don’t just have to see numbers to believe something is there.  It is the philosophy of the lotus plant. The more our mind is open to what is out there, the more we will see even if it is on another level.  It does not always have to be tangible to make an impact. Sharolyn: What appealed to you about Women for Nature? Susan: I was impressed with such a diverse group of women who want to make a difference.  I want to ensure future generations can see and experience what I have. I say, if man has been responsible for much, and most of the problems... let women be part of the solution!  We want our children to have the beautiful world that we’ve enjoyed.  We’re like-minded, and we have the will to do something.  We’re like a cluster of light that forms a beam in the darkness. Sharolyn: Thank you, Susan. Susan:  You’re welcome, Sharolyn.

SCBC wins Nature Canada 2017 Conservation Partner Award
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SCBC wins Nature Canada 2017 Conservation Partner Award

Nature Canada is pleased to announce that the Stewardship Centre for BC (SCBC) has won Nature Canada’s 2017 Conservation Partner Award.Nature Canada Conservation Partner Crest The award recognizes the conservation efforts of a Nature Canada partner organization whose work has significantly contributed to the cause of conservation in Canada. In this case, it was awarded to SCBC for its tireless work towards Keeping Cats Safe and Saving Bird Lives. SCBC’s research into municipalities has helped our coalition better understand the issue in BC and its strong resources for municipalities has greatly helped our cause, not only in BC, but across the country. SCBC has also helped the Cats and Birds program by bringing other provincial partners into the fold and actively engaging on social media. Overview of SCBC’s work on Cats and Birds: Survey on attitudes and opinions While the impact of domestic and feral cats on the mortality of birds has been documented, there are few studies in Canada examining public attitudes towards free-roaming cats. However, last winter the Stewardship Centre for British Columbia (SCBC) worked with UBC Environmental Science students to develop a public online survey and a targeted telephone survey to better understand perceptions surrounding free-roaming domestic cats. A major finding of the survey was that two-thirds of British Columbian cat-owners feel it is appropriate or somewhat appropriate to allow cats to be outside unsupervised. SCBC’s future education and outreach will work on changing these attitudes. The full survey report will be available soon. Image of Anna's HummingbirdSCBC work with municipalities The targeted phone interviews with local governments and animal welfare organizations collected information on current policies, practices and bylaws in place in their communities. This work revealed that few municipalities had effective no-roam bylaws. SCBC is currently arranging partnerships with some local municipalities on cat and bird educational campaigns as a first step in securing changes at the local level. Additionally, two earlier documents that SCBC created, Briefing Note for Local Governments and Recommended Policy and Bylaws documents, were updated last year by Nature Canada to address a national audience, and distributed across the country. Educational information One very successful information piece for cat owners has been the educational “Happy Cat” brochure, first developed by SCBC in 2015. Last spring, the brochure was updated and now includes information on cats’ impact on vulnerable bat populations. SCBC also has a more detailed Stewardship Practices guide “Reducing the Impact of Cats on Birds and Wildlife (2016).”

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The Monarch on Fall Migration
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The Monarch on Fall Migration

[caption id="attachment_22916" align="alignleft" width="150"]Image of Samantha Nurse Samantha Nurse, Web and Social Media Coordinator[/caption] Did you know that Monarch Butterflies travel up to 3000 kilometers south for the winter? Every year, these insects  migrate an incredibly long distance to get to their wintering grounds in Central Mexico. Here, there are millions that congregate in a Canadian-type northern fir forest. The forest provides cover as the Monarchs drape themselves from the fir trees in the millions. They migrate to this particular habitat as it protects them from temperature extremes and dryness. As they start their migration in late summer/early fall, you may be lucky to see more Monarchs buzzing around your NatureHood. One filmmaker in Toronto was lucky enough to see a number of Monarchs on their journey and captured a video to show our winged friends!

Aside from the fall migration – you will also see the Monarch coming back to Canada in early June. What better way to celebrate their return than to help this species! Over the last 20 years, the Monarch Butterfly population has seen a drop of 80%! In Canada, the Monarch is listed as special concern under the Species at Risk Act (SARA). This year, a new program was put in place called MilkweedWatch that allows you to help the Monarch Butterfly through citizen science! This program requires you to identify the location of milkweed plants, which are crucial for Monarch reproduction in Canada. By doing so, it helps researchers and conservation groups protect and preserve milkweed plants across Canada! Along with protecting milkweeds, Nature Canada also worked with the Monarch Teacher Network of Canada to showcase the life cycle of the Monarch and display what teachers are doing to help protect this species.

Have you seen more Monarchs in your NatureHood? Let us know through Facebook or Twitter!
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