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Women for Nature look at Biodiversity Barriers and Drivers
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Women for Nature look at Biodiversity Barriers and Drivers

[caption id="attachment_35797" align="alignleft" width="150"] Kayla O'Neill, Carleton University Practicum Student[/caption] This blog was written by Carleton Practicum Student Kayla O'Neill as a summary of the latest Women for Nature e-Dialogues conversation. Biodiversity conservation is an issue that requires work from multiple scales, from government to local. Canada as a whole can take these recommendations to further our efforts in biodiversity conservation across the nation. To look deeper into these issues, Changing the conversation hosted the third e-dialogue from our four part series Biodiversity Conversations: How important are the Common Loon and Polar Bears to Canadians. Led by Women for Nature, the panelists brought a variety of very interesting perspectives and knowledge to this specific issue. When looking at the scales in regards to biodiversity conservation, there are different levels to consider. A first one is looking at the different scales of government. There needs to be collaborations between the scales of government, as there are currently gaps. These gaps between the levels of government and the private ownership and citizens needs to be fixed in order for establish greater protection of biodiversity. Another scale that need considering is the emotional scale. An example being that Polar Bears are "emotionally valued more" and are a recognizes as a symbol to conservation efforts, therefore there has been more advertising and care for the species. Overall, all scales need to work together to achieve the most conservation possible. This e-Dialogue also looked at what Canada can do specifically to help biodiversity conservation. Collaborations and education were the two biggest things that Canada can do to protect biodiversity. The first being collaboration between agencies and different organizations. There needs to be a network of connections for biodiversity strategies to have the best effect. A second thing is educating the public on the issues surrounding biodiversity and what can be done to help. A starting point being education in school systems and putting biodiversity into the curriculum so to engage youth on this topic. In addition, there needs to be greater awareness on raising efforts to protect biodiversity to the general public. An overall agreement from this talk was that Canada needs more conservation areas. Funding is an issue so there needs to be better funding options and the recent federal budget is the first step to this. To view the full conversation click here for the PDF, or check out our biodiversity library to learn more from a collection of resources from the changing the conversation platform. The last conversation will bring together the recommendations to develop an action agenda for biodiversity conservation in Canada.

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The Bighorn Sheep: Majestic and Memorable
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The Bighorn Sheep: Majestic and Memorable

[caption id="attachment_33210" align="alignleft" width="160"]Guest blogger Rebecca Kennedy Guest blogger Rebecca Kennedy[/caption] This blog post was written by guest blogger Rebecca Kennedy. Nature Canada's 2017 calendar features the Bighorn Sheep as its photo for March. With its set of bulky spiralled horns, this iconic animal is easily one of Canada’s most recognizable. There are two subspecies of the bighorn - Californiana (California Bighorn Sheep) and Canadensis (Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep).

Where do they live?

image of mountainsIn Canada, the Bighorn Sheep is found in scattered parts of southern British Columbia and more prolifically in western Alberta, in the Canadian Rockies. Their range continues down into the American Rockies, and they can be found as far south as Mexico’s Baja Peninsula. The bighorn’s ideal environment has a dry climate and is rugged with areas plentiful of low grasses and herbs. Herds will often migrate long distances in the winter to areas with minimal snowfall. There are just over 3,000 Bighorn Sheep in British Columbia, and the population there is considered vulnerable in part due to human encroachment on their habitats. In Alberta, however, where the mammal is the official provincial mammal, the Bighorn Sheep is considered secure, with more than 11,000 inhabiting its national parks and provincial lands, representing over 15% of the Bighorn Sheep population in North America.

What do they look like?

The bighorn is about one and a half times larger than a domestic sheep. An adult Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep is typically between 1.5 to 1.8 meters tall and can weigh between approximately 50 and 130 kilogrammes. Males (rams) are characterized by their enormous horns, but females (ewes) also have horns, albeit noticeably smaller and less curved. Bighorns have coarse coats, which range from a rich brown with white at the hooves and muzzle, to a greyish brown, depending on the time of year.

What do they eat?

[caption id="attachment_32093" align="alignleft" width="300"]Image of Bighorn Sheep by Maggie Romuld Bighorn Sheep by Maggie Romuld[/caption] Bighorn Sheep are herbivores, meaning they only eat plants. Grasses, herbs, shrubs, and other low-lying plants are suitable for foraging. Throughout the year and depending on their location, they enjoy grasses such as fescue and bluebunch wheatgrass and herbs like balsam root and lupine. When their favourite plants are not available, they will sometimes eat conifers. Bighorn Sheep also enjoy mineral or salt licks.

What is their nature?

Bighorn Sheep are quite social and roam in packs ranging from five to twenty. Typically herds are segregated between bachelor males and females with the young. Groups have a defined social hierarchy and power structure. The size of a ram, and the size of his horns, determines his stature within the group. Males will fight to preserve or assert their dominance or to win over a mate.

Fun facts

  • Scientists can tell the age of a bighorn by the number of necklines on its horns.
  • A ram’s horns alone can weigh more than the combined weight of other parts of his body.
  • Bighorns have extremely keen eyesight—they can perceive movement over one kilometre away!
Acknowledgements: Alberta Environment and ParksAlberta Government, BC Ministry of Environment, Lands and ParksHinterland Who's Who, and National Geographic
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5 Fun Ways to Enjoy Nature on Family Day
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5 Fun Ways to Enjoy Nature on Family Day

[caption id="attachment_33210" align="alignleft" width="160"]Guest blogger Rebecca Kennedy Guest blogger Rebecca Kennedy[/caption] This blog was written by guest blogger Rebecca Kennedy. Today is Family Day in Ontario, Alberta and Saskatchewan, and what better way to enjoy the long winter than partaking in some nature appreciation activities, whether you and your loved ones want to go outside or stay indoors! Look for wildlife wherever you are. Whether you’re in the city or country, animals are still around you during the wintertime. Go for a walk and record the types of animals and insects you see or hear — list them in a notebook or even sketch them. Observe birds and squirrels in your backyard or ducks at a nearby body of water. Set up a feeder on your porch or balcony to get a closer look at the birds in your NatureHood! While outside observing wildlife, check out our e-Book series for identification tips of various types of birds. Stargaze. Bundle up and grab a set of binoculars. One benefit of winter is that the early darkness gives younger children a chance to enjoy this activity. There are weather forecasts specifically for stargazing – for example, Toronto, Ottawa, Vancouver, and Moncton. If you live in a city or highly lit area, try heading out to a designated dark sky area or preserve. A map from the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada can you help locate a site. There are also several astronomy apps to help you read the sky — Star Chart and Night Sky Lite are both free ones. duck-ice Read together as a family. Cozy up with a thick blanket and mugs of hot cocoa, and read aloud your favourite books. There are many picture books on weather, animals, outdoor environments and other subjects in nature education and appreciation. Vancouver Public Library offers some recommendations to start you off such as Raindrops and Snowflakes and Natural Worlds. Go ice skating. Stay active together this winter! Tie up your skates and bring a thermos of hot chocolate to a nearby park, pond, lake or river. Near Vancouver, skaters can enjoy an 8,000-square-foot pond at Grouse Mountain. In Ottawa, the Rideau Canal Skateway offers up a free and exhilarating way to experience the brisk winter air and get moving during a sometimes dreary time of year. Make a nature-inspired craft. Get creative with found objects from the natural world (or sometimes, Michael’s or Value Village). Our blog offers several ideas, such as a pine cone wreath, a gourd bird feeder and walnut boats. Bring the outdoors inside as well by making a terrarium or a miniature fairy garden. Short on supplies and don’t feel like leaving the house? Use plain white printing paper and scissors to cut out snowflakes to display in your windows or paste on a card. What is your family doing on Family Day? Let us know in the comments below!

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Connect with Nature – Make Your Own Herbal Tea
Two cups of herbal tea
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Connect with Nature – Make Your Own Herbal Tea

[caption id="attachment_33210" align="alignleft" width="160"]Guest blogger Rebecca Kennedy Guest blogger Rebecca Kennedy[/caption] This blog post was written by guest blogger Rebecca Kennedy. Consumed since antiquity across ancient civilizations, from China to the Mediterranean, herbal tea continues to be a popular beverage today. More formally known as a tisane, herbal tea is generally defined as a steeped drink made from an infusion of herbs, seeds, spices, flowers, leaves or other plant material. It is sometimes taken for medicinal or health benefits. Strictly speaking, a tisane is not actually considered a tea, as types of the latter derive from the leaves of the plant Camellia Sinensis, while tisanes are made from the parts of other plants and typically contain no caffeine. You have probably noticed many herbal teas at the grocery store — chamomile, ginger and mint are examples. But did you know that it can be pretty easy to make your own? Using plants collected from a recent hike in the woods or your backyard, or purchased from a trusted farmer or market, you can create your own personalized blend! orange-blossom-tea-pic
All you need is a pot or kettle, fresh cold water (filtered if possible), your chosen ingredient(s) and a mug for serving. A strainer is quite useful if you wish to strain your tisane before drinking. Alternatively, you can fashion a homemade tea bag from cheesecloth in which to put your herbal bouquet. Last, you may wish to get an airtight container for storing your blend. Here are some recipes to get you started. Licorice Peppermint Tea My friend Kristin absolutely adores this blend during the winter.

  • ½ cup + 2 Tbsp cut licorice root
  • ½ cup cut peppermint leaf
Combine ingredients well in a bowl. Steep 1 tablespoon of blend per one cup of boiling water. Sam’s Cold Comfort Tea Sam, Nature Canada’s Website and Social Media Coordinator, makes the following whenever she has a cold.
  • 2 slices of lemon
  • About a quarter of a ginger root, peeled
  • 1½ cups of water
Fill a small pot with the water. Add the lemon and ginger and bring to a boil. Boil for 5 minutes. Pour into a mug and sweeten with honey if desired. Image of Eastern hemlockTed, Nature Canada’s Senior Conservation Manager, recommends a similar cold-fighting concoction of garlic and lemon steeped in boiling water and then adding honey. In addition, Ted also enjoys using these plants in particular for homemade tisanes:
  • Eastern hemlock – the needles
  • Wintergreen
  • Strawberry – the plants with their blooms
For the Eastern hemlock, choose the lightest green branchlets (the young and tender ones). For all three, use a handful or two and steep in boiling water for about 5 minutes. We hope these recipes will inspire you to create your own special tisane! As with any new-to-you plant, please be sure to first check in with a healthcare professional before trying. Your local public library is a great place to find herbal tea recipe books as well as information on safe plants to consume and their benefits and effects. Acknowledgements: Merriam-Webster, The KitchnThe Visual Food EncyclopediaThe Tea BookEncyclopedia of Human Nutrition
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