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Natural Capitalism: A conversation with Women for Nature Laura Couvrette and Cara MacMillan
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Natural Capitalism: A conversation with Women for Nature Laura Couvrette and Cara MacMillan

[caption id="attachment_31054" align="alignleft" width="150"]Image of Cara Macmillan Cara MacMillan, Women for Nature member[/caption] Featuring Women for Nature member's Laura Couvrette. Written by fellow Women for Nature member Cara MacMillan.  [caption id="attachment_31533" align="alignright" width="150"]Image of Laura Couvrette Laura Couvrette, Women for Nature member[/caption]

“We believe that organizations can do more. Organizations can increase profitability and efficiency while becoming more environmentally and socially responsible.”
  Allow me to introduce you to my friend and partner in Women for Nature, Laura Couvrette. Laura and I share a passion for nature and for business. This article is about Laura’s journey and commitment. Laura is from small town northwestern Ontario. She believes in community. Growing up, she saw and felt the wealth in nature as it provided jobs to her community. But nature was more than that– Laura saw that the abundance of lakes and trees need to remain so that we each can feel the healing and restorative powers of our natural world. Laura’s personal need to connect to nature leads her joyfully down many of Toronto’s beautiful running trails. “There are beautiful trees in amongst the concrete that can quiet your mind and your soul, but one needs to look to see them.” Business and nature are not mutually exclusive. The challenge that each of us in Women for Nature share is to practice authenticity. “We need to weave a respect for nature into the daily routines of our lives.” Image of a trail in the forestSo what inspired you to become a Woman for Nature? “I love the idea that women who are not necessarily working in the environmental field can share in the collective responsibility to stand, speak and champion nature. I am honoured to be a part of the conversation on how we each can be stewards of the earth.” As we continued to chat, Laura told me a secret that I have to share with you (and yes I have her permission.) “I pick up trash.” Yes as Laura runs along the trails or walks to the park and she sees litter along the road, she brings a bag along so that she can recycle it appropriately. “There is a neighbour of mine who takes the time to walk through our neighbourhood and nearby park and pick up the things others had thoughtlessly thrown out. I love that he does the right thing for the right reasons even when no one is looking. That is what I try to do in every aspect of my life. I want to do the right thing even when no one is watching.” So is there anything you would like to add…. “I enjoy connecting and learning from other women who share my passion for nature. We are women from many different professions, many different parts of Canada, many different backgrounds and we help each other see things differently. Being a Woman for Nature has sharpened my lens and it allows me to see what needs to change.” Tell me who inspired you? My inspiration has to be my great aunt Florence. Remember, we lived in a very small town. Our world was small. Yet Florence was very well read and intellectually well-rounded woman. She always kept an open mind. Florence was interested in the world and she challenged me to be curious and to explore different viewpoints from different perspectives: science, business, art, pop culture and community. And how do you apply what Florence taught you? I apply the same open-mindedness and respect in all aspects of my personal and business life. Creating meaningful connections with people is achieved when you go outside of the ordinary. Empathy, connection, community, family, respect, stewardship, balance and inner quiet are the values by which I lead my life. And in business, sometimes these values may not lead to immediate returns, but the value proposition over the long-term is powerful and more profitable. Any advice? [caption id="attachment_33937" align="alignright" width="435"]Image of the nature in Toronto Nature in Toronto[/caption] "See nature where you are. I challenge the idea that Toronto is only skyscrapers and cement. It is simply not true. Nature is everywhere and we need to open our eyes and find it. There are great apps that show us where nature is in our community. As a family, we adopted and planted a tree in our local park. I love watering our tree with my son. Children want to go outside and they want to explore. I get to see the excitement when my son sees the first snail after the winter thaw. This is who I am. I renew myself in the forests of Toronto. Women for Nature champions nature in our communities. We share our stories, inspire each other and encourage each other to think broadly. We challenge each other to keep an open mind and to see our world from many perspectives: science, business, art, pop culture and community. And we also challenge each other to do the right thing, even when no one is looking." To learn more about our amazing Women for Nature, please click here.
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Canada’s Parks Day and the Benefits of Being in Nature
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Canada’s Parks Day and the Benefits of Being in Nature

[caption id="attachment_33210" align="alignleft" width="150"]becka-tulips Guest blogger Rebecca Kennedy[/caption] This post was written by guest blogger Rebecca Kennedy. According to Statistics Canada, as of  2011, more than 80% of Canadians today live in urban areas. While the amenities of big-city life are a significant draw, the benefits of spending time in nature, for both children and adults, are unquestionable. children-forest-hikeGetting children out in nature is crucial to their growth. It enriches both their mental and physical development and well-being. Spending time outdoors and performing activities that engage with the natural world has been shown to increase attention spans, cultivate creativity, and plant a desire to learn through exploration. A 2009 study found that children who spend time in green parks exhibit lower levels of symptoms of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). In addition, being outdoors is good for physical fitness. Recreational activities like walking, running, and spontaneous play (like throwing a ball), can lead to a lower likelihood of developing chronic conditions, such as type 2 diabetes. Further, a longitudinal study performed in Southern California found that proximity to parks results in lower obesity rates among children. The benefits of nature extend to adulthood in numerous and diverse ways. Chronic stress leads to poorer sleep, headaches, obesity, hypertension, decreased immunity, and can eventually result in dangerous ailments such as heart disease and stroke. But the tension can be countered by taking in the sights and sounds of green spaces. And this doesn't mean a three-hour drive to the mountains. Apparently, merely having a window forest view can be enough to lower stress in the workplace! In addition, a 2015 study at Stanford University found that adults who walked for 90 minutes in a natural area, as opposed to a congested urban zone, had decreased activity in a region of the brain associated with a key factor in depression. Another benefit of being in nature is improved cognitive ability. Spending time in green areas helps clear our heads, refocus, and also improves our memory. Research shows that even patients with dementia have decreased symptoms when exposed to gardens and horticultural activities. canada-parks-passWith these findings in mind, take care of yourself and your loved ones by taking it outside. Canada's Parks Day—and the rest of the summer—is yours for the taking! For 2017, admission is free to all national parks, national historic sites, and national marine conservation areas operated by Parks Canada. You can order your pass online or pick one up at MEC, CIBC branches, and various partner organizations near you—see this official list of locations by province. To help you make a destination decision, review this complete Parks Canada list of all the free sites, which you can limit by province. There are also many outdoor activities to consider in the city. Enjoy a contemplative walk or a bike ride along a waterway, a good book under the trees, a picnic by the lake, birdwatching from your porch, or a bug scavenger hunt with your children. The options are endless! We hope you enjoy this year’s Canada’s Parks Day and we would love to hear about your adventures!

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The colourful Atlantic Puffin
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The colourful Atlantic Puffin

[caption id="attachment_31795" align="alignleft" width="150"]Image of Amanda Simard Amanda Simard, Writing Intern[/caption] This blog was written by writing intern Amanda Simard. This month’s calendar photo features an Atlantic Puffin and was taken in Newfoundland. Did you know the Atlantic Puffin was the official bird of Newfoundland and Labrador? Learn more about this impressive seabird!

Atlantic Puffin Description
  • Common name: Atlantic Puffin
  • Scientific name: Fratercula arctica
  • Habitat: rocky cliffs of the northern Atlantic Ocean
  • Lifespan: 20 years or longer
  • Size: 25 cm long, 500 g
  • Description: Atlantic Puffins are large seabirds with penguin-like coloring. They have a colorful beak in the spring and summer, which fades to grey during the winter.
 image of an Atlantic Puffin

Nesting

Atlantic Puffins nest in burrows that are 60-120 cm deep. Puffins first breed at three to six years old. A single egg is laid per pair and the males stay with the females for the 42-day incubation, both parents incubating the egg. When the young hatch, they are fed small fish. About 40 days later, the parents leave the young puffins to fend for themselves.

Diet

Puffins eat small fish, crustaceans and molluscs. They catch and eat these underwater unless they are bringing them back for their young.

Behaviour

Puffins walk around standing erect like penguins. They swim on the water surface like ducks or they dive and swim underwater when hunting for food. Puffins can also fly, running across the water surface to become airborne. While Atlantic Puffins breed in large groups on the coast, during the non-breeding season they spend most of their time on the open sea. They have been little studied during this period as the sea is vast, making them difficult to track.

image of an Atlantic PuffinProject Puffin

In 1973, the National Audubon Society started The Puffin Project in an effort to restore Puffins to the gulf of Maine. The Atlantic Puffin is not considered threatened as it still nests in thousands along the rocky coasts of Newfoundland, Iceland, and Britain, but it has seen serious declines in certain regions of  Europe. Today, the methods developed and the research conducted thanks to The Puffin Project serve a larger purpose than puffin conservation. The Puffin Project is now a conservation effort aiming to protect various seabirds along with their eggs and the habitat they depend on.[gap height="15"]

How you can help

Stay informed and support Nature Canada’s varied bird conservation efforts. Do you know the official birds of any other province? Take your guesses in the comments, or connect with us on Twitter and Facebook.
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Why I went out alone in Algonquin Park
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Why I went out alone in Algonquin Park

[caption id="attachment_32306" align="alignleft" width="150"]Image of Cobi Sharpe Cobi Sharpe, Guest Blogger[/caption] This blog is written by guest blogger Cobi Sharpe. I gained so much from my experience. Not only did I prove to myself that I can go out alone for four days, portage a canoe and carry all the necessities with me, but I also surprised myself in how I handled the adventure both mentally and emotionally. For me, typically, the first night of camping in the backcountry is spent believing that every sound I hear is a bear getting at my food barrel or wandering around the campsite. The second night, some of the noises sound like a bear, and by the third night, I’m so exhausted from not sleeping that I crash for the night and don’t hear anything. After that, I’m familiar with the sounds of the night and sleeping isn’t an issue anymore. [caption id="attachment_33740" align="alignright" width="300"]Placeholder,Photo by Cobi Sharpe Photo by Cobi Sharpe[/caption] The first night of my solo trip, I only woke up to the sound of gusting wind blowing the fly around. I had to go out a couple of times to re-peg it down, and then eventually moved my tent altogether. I had an amazing sleep. Maybe it was the fresh air; maybe it was not being able to hear any noises but the wind. Either way, I completely surprised myself because I thought I would be afraid. My plan to paddle some distance and portage each day quickly dwindled. There was a lot of wind, and I just didn’t feel comfortable paddling in those conditions. The ice had melted off the lakes in Algonquin only a couple of days before I embarked on my trip. I was on my own and playing it safe was my number one priority. Even though it rained during the first two days of my trip, I found solace in reading my book in the tent, and going out to gather and cut wood for a fire that I didn’t end up having anyway because everything was wet. I don’t ever mind the rain, especially on a canoe trip. On day three the sun came out, and I followed the sun patches around my campsite all day. [caption id="attachment_33738" align="alignleft" width="300"]Placeholder,Photo by Cobi Sharpe Photo by Cobi Sharpe[/caption] The other way I kept myself busy was photography. I love being able to get to know a campsite, and start taking photographs that bring out the special aspects of that place. Maybe it’s the view, maybe there are huge mature trees, or maybe there is just an unbelievable amount of moose poop (you’ll have to watch the video). Either way, I love seeing and discovering nature through my camera’s lens. I wasn’t scared, I wasn’t nervous and I wasn’t emotional. I couldn’t understand why. I thought it might be because I was ready, capable and prepared to venture out solo. But when I paddled back on my last day and saw the permit office on Canoe Lake, I started crying. What an incredible accomplishment! My confidence went through the roof. So why did I go on my first solo canoe trip? Because I can. You can watch the video of my adventure here.


Cobi Sharpe is an award-winning photographer and outdoor blogger who enjoys canoeing, backcountry camping, hiking and being out in nature. Check out her website here!
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Multi-species plans: A new approach to species recovery in Canada
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Multi-species plans: A new approach to species recovery in Canada

[caption id="attachment_33785" align="alignleft" width="150"]sean feagan Sean Feagan, Guest Blogger[/caption] This blog is written by guest blogger Sean Feagan.  The primary cause of the decline of wild species in Canada is the loss and degradation of habitat. Given this, the protection and management of habitat is central to the recovery of species at risk. The federal Species at Risk Act legislates the listing, protection and recovery of species at risk, including the prohibition of destruction of “critical habitat” on federal land, and establishes requirements for species recovery. Under SARA, recovery planning is a two-step process, which first involves the development of a Recovery Strategy that includes the identification of critical habitat, and a subsequent Action Plan to identify measures to protect or enhances the critical habitat. To date, this recovery planning framework has largely been undertaken on a species-by-species basis. However, there is a trend towards multi-species recovery planning in which proposed management actions target multiple species at risk simultaneously. The Species at Risk Act Policies (2009) suggests multi-species recovery planning could increase the overall efficiency and/or effectiveness of conservation efforts, particularly in situations where multiple species co-occur in the same habitat, are affected by similar threats or are similar taxonomically. This suggestion is supported by economic analyses on multi-species planning which employed optimization models. Multi-species approaches may also streamline consultation efforts, reduce conflict between species at risk, address common threats, promote thinking on a broader scale, and reduce duplication of effort in conservation planning. greater sage grouse The Environment Canada Protected Areas Strategy (2011) outlines two main approaches to conservation:

  1. Stewardship initiatives promoting land management beneficial to wild species habitat; and
  2. The securing of land for the protection of biodiversity.
Within each of these approaches, multi-species action plans are currently being implemented for species conservation in Canada. South of the Divide: A multi-species action plan dependent on private stewardship The South of the Divide (SOD) Action Plan (2016) targets nine federally listed species at risk inhabiting the Milk River basin of southwestern Saskatchewan. The nine species, largely dependent on short-grass native prairie habitats, are Black-footed Ferret, Burrowing Owl, Eastern Yellow-bellied Racer, Greater Sage-Grouse, Loggerhead Shrike, Mormon Metal Mark, Mountain Plover, Sprague’s Pipit and Swift Fox. Critical habitat within the region was first defined independently for each species, then these areas were combined into a single layer.

The action plan employs spatial analyses to prioritize and direct conservation efforts within the region. A spatial threat analysis was performed to classify the overlapping area of the species’ critical habitat into three threat classes (low, medium, high) by assessing the combined impact of existing and potential threats (e.g. industrial activity, roads, capability to support agriculture) in the region. Lands within and in proximity to the provincial community pastures, and the region between the east and west blocks of Grasslands National Park were identified as high threat areas. The action plan also contains a suite of conservation activities to promote the recovery of these species.

Parks Canada Multi-Species Action Planning

Under the Canada National Parks Act, the maintenance or restoration of ecological integrity is the first priority in all aspects of park management, a key element includes maintaining the composition and abundance of native species, notably species at risk. Within their 2013-14 Report on Plans and Priorities, the Parks Canada Agency stated they will work to recovery priority species at risk through the implementation of site-based (eg. for a particular park or conservation area) action plans using the multi-species approach. Eleven site-based multi-species action plans have been finalized for National Parks, National Marine Parks, and National Historic Sites throughout Canada, with an additional twelve plans proposed. These action plans target species differ taxonomically, but together exist within the site. These plans focus on species listed under SARA, by COSEWIC, under provincial legislation, or that are of particular significance to indigenous peoples. [caption id="attachment_33812" align="alignleft" width="300"]Lewis' Woodpecker Lewis' Woodpecker[/caption] The action plans assess the potential of the site to contribute to the national recovery of each species, identify of critical habitat within the site, list monitoring needs for each species, and include recovery activities aimed to sustain or recovery species populations within the site. While some of the suggested management activities target single species, others will potentially benefit multiple species. For example, within the proposed Multi-species Action Plan for Jasper National Park, controlled burns to maintain early successional post-fire communities will promote multiple species at risk, including Common Nighthawk, Half-moon Hairstreak, Lewis’s Woodpecker, Olive-sided Flycatcher, and Whitebark Pine Conclusion Multi-species planning represents a potentially effective tool for species conservation. The effectiveness of these plans will be assessed through their implementation, ensuring these policy remain adaptive and evidence based. Hopefully they will act to promote the preservation and recovery of Canada’s many fascinating and beautiful species at risk!
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Schoolyard Blitz – Mud Lake Edition
Lac Mud
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Schoolyard Blitz – Mud Lake Edition

This blog was written by Axel, a communications volunteer from the Youth LEAD: Employment Program for Newcomer and Immigrant Youth.  On June 13, Nature Canada and a Grade 4 and 5 class from Regina Street Public School in Ottawa went to Mud Lake to discover nature in their NatureHood. The students at Regina Street Public School have the incredible opportunity and fortune to visit Mud Lake on a weekly basis, given its close proximity to the school. As a result, the students have a strong affinity towards this special place, knowledge of the area, and are very comfortable in the nature trails. [caption id="attachment_33517" align="alignleft" width="300"]exploring nature exploring nature[/caption] Mud Lake is an NCC Conservation Area located within the Lac Deschenes Important Bird and Biodiversity Area (IBA), the site of Ottawa’s signatory NatureHood! Mud Lake was recently acknowledged in the Ottawa Citizen as being one of the most ecologically diverse spots in Canada! With over 400 species found in this 60-hectare wetland, it is truly a remarkable hotspot for biodiversity! We asked the kids to form small groups and, with a NatureBlitz species checklist, we went on an expedition to discover what Mud Lake had to offer. To ensure a fun and safe NatureBlitz, we talked about safety including what poisonous plants to be aware of, such as poison ivy, and to be tick-aware. As we were walking through the trails, we noticed different varieties of trees, like birch, maple, oak and more! With a closer look, we even found berries, mushrooms and different species of wildflowers. [caption id="attachment_33518" align="alignright" width="225"]Bird Nest Bird Nest[/caption] Not only did we see lots of plant life, we were able to observe a number of insects, birds and mammals. We found Canada geese, mallard ducks, frogs, painted turtles, squirrels and many different insects including spiders and various butterflies. One of the highlights was when one of the students spotted a little brown snake! Coiled up it was no bigger than a quarter! We spent a lot of time observing it. It was a real pleasure to see the kids enjoying being out in nature, sharing their knowledge and working together to identify species. When they could not identify some of the birds or plants, one of Nature Canada’s volunteers, Jen, opened her field guides and helped fill the gaps. Another exciting moment was seeing a Red-eyed Vireo sitting in her nest! When the bird fled, we were able to see three eggs inside the nest. Based on discussions with the kids and teachers, we discovered that 2 of the eggs belonged to a Brown-headed Cowbird, known to abandon their eggs and to be fostered by other birds (usually at the expense of the host’s own baby chicks). A complete list of our discoveries in the Mud Lake is available, and I hope it will inspire you to want to visit the area! I would like to thank everyone who participated in the NatureBlitz, and invite everybody to get out and connect with Nearby Nature in your NatureHood!


Recruited as part of the Youth LEAD program, volunteering with Nature Canada has been an amazing journey so far. Apart from technical knowledge gained, I learned about all the different types of programs Nature Canada has. The most exciting part of this volunteering opportunity was when we went to discover an ecologically important habitat in the urban part of Canada’s capital region. In this Schoolyard Blitz, I got a chance to know more about biodiversity found in Canada.
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Get to Know “Wild” Woman for Nature Jennifer Haddow
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Get to Know “Wild” Woman for Nature Jennifer Haddow

[caption id="attachment_13592" align="alignleft" width="130"]Picture of Caroline Casselman Caroline Casselman, Women for Nature member[/caption] Featuring Women for Nature member Jennifer Haddow. Written by fellow Women for Nature member Caroline Casselman.  [caption id="attachment_33430" align="alignright" width="150"]Jennifer Haddow tree Jennifer Haddow, Women for Nature member.[/caption] Jennifer Haddow is the owner of Wild Women Expeditions, an outdoor adventure travel company for women. She has led public engagement programs for a variety of environmental and social justice non-profit organizations, including Oxfam Canada and the Canadian Environmental Network. Jennifer is a passionate advocate for protection of wild spaces and promoting the value of women's leadership in the outdoors. She is based in Quadra Island, British Columbia. As part of the Women for Nature blog series, I asked Jennifer how her environmental activism has changed over the course of her career. Growing up in Newfoundland, what influenced your decision to become a global citizen and environmental activist? At 18, I had the opportunity to join the Canada World Youth exchange program. I lived for four months in Egypt, which opened my eyes to global issues around poverty, social justice, race relations, community development and the environment. The experience changed my perspective on what I wanted to accomplish in my life and my career. I studied international development at university and began my journey to becoming a global citizen. I worked for 15 years in the not-for-profit world, as well as in government on the International Campaign to End Landmines. That is a major life change. Was there anything in particular that influenced your decision? [caption id="attachment_33434" align="alignleft" width="300"]Jennifer Haddow Jennifer Haddow, in nature.[/caption] Like a lot of conservationists, I was extremely passionate about protecting the environment – almost becoming a martyr to the cause. Eventually, though, I became frustrated by some of the armchair activism we see in the movement. Lots of statistics and talk about saving the environment, but not enough on-the-ground experience or in-depth knowledge about the threatened places we were trying to save. We also talked about having a balanced relationship with the natural world, but we didn’t have much balance in our own lives. I myself was working too much and losing my connection to what we were all fighting for – I call it the unhealthy saviour complex. I became frustrated and burnt out. And then I became sick. I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) 10 years ago, a terrifying wakeup call. I decided to re-orient my life toward the natural world. I travelled to the Himalayas and trekked to the base camp of Mount Everest. It was incredible to wake up in a tent in the snow and watch the sun rise over the world’s highest mountain. From then on, the compass of my life tilted toward fresh air, sunshine, being active and healing. I had gone on a few Wild Women expeditions and loved them so much, I bought the company when the owner announced her retirement. Intuitively, I felt I was meant to be the next owner. How does the mission of Wild Women Expeditions align with the Women for Nature campaign? Is this what inspired you to join? Yes, I think it is important for all of us to get out into the wilderness and get dirty! We need to engage in a physical way in order to fall in love with the natural world, otherwise we won’t really fight hard enough to protect it. That’s the premise for Wild Women Expeditions. We want to bring women into this supportive experience so they can fall in love with the natural world and do the necessary work to conserve it. [caption id="attachment_33433" align="alignright" width="300"]Jennifer Haddow, on a kayaking trip. Jennifer Haddow, on a kayaking trip.[/caption] That passion and commitment is what I identify with in the Women for Nature campaign. And while I believe we need to physically engage in these issues, I also believe in the power of storytelling. We always read outdoor adventure stories about men but we need to promote the value of that experience for women. We need to connect the dots between outdoor adventure, protecting wild spaces and promoting women’s leadership in nature. The next issue of our Wild Women Magazine features Jane Goodall – the quintessential wild woman! How is your health now? I’m in the best health I’ve ever been. I consider myself to be in remission. I have a chronic condition but I am not sick; I am afflicted but not affected. I am at my happiest being a mother to my 5-year old son and when we are home on Quadra Island, we spend lot of time taking hikes and communing with nature. But I want him to be a global citizen too. We visit incredible places – from the jungles of Costa Rica to the Egyptian desert and the elephant sanctuaries of Northern Thailand. Any words of wisdom or advice you want to share with future Women for Nature? I believe I had a physical, emotional and spiritual breakdown because – like a lot of women – I had too much stress and not enough space. And we need that space in order to balance our lives, maintain our health and be our authentic selves. So I can’t emphasize it enough. Go outside, get dirty and connect to the natural world. And, share your stories of what it means to be a wild and adventurous woman – for your health, your spirit and for the environment. To learn more about our amazing Women for Nature, please visit www.womenfornature.ca

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5 Ways to Be a Responsible Cruise Goer
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5 Ways to Be a Responsible Cruise Goer

[caption id="attachment_33210" align="alignleft" width="160"]Guest blogger Rebecca Kennedy Guest blogger Rebecca Kennedy[/caption] This post was written by guest blogger Rebecca Kennedy. A cruise can be a fun and comfortable vacation for many people, but the effects on the environment can be brutal, including but not limited to the spewing of polluting air emissions, fuel, and wastewater, and irresponsible sewage disposal. A modern cruise ship produces more than 300,000 gallons per week of human sewage, which contain multiple pathogens, nutrients, and parasites that harm marine life and disturb delicate oceanic ecosystems. Another statistic of note—a cruise passenger’s carbon footprint is roughly three times what it would be on land. Many cruise lines today are working to ease their environmental impact. Some example initiatives are the use of solar panels, stronger recycling programs, speed recalibrations to maximize fuel efficiency, improved employee training on waste management, the dumping of shipboard waste while at port instead of at sea, and the use of LNG (liquefied natural gas) as fuel. Despite these measures, these enormous “cities at sea” still pose significant environmental hazards. But if cruising is your jam, there are several measures you can take to travel responsibly. Here are five ideas:

  1. Check cruise lines’ records on environmental safety and health. Do some research and choose a cruise ship or company that has a solid record of making the move to greener policies and operations. The activist organization Friends of the Earth publishes an annual report card that grades cruise lines and ships on their environmental footprint by numerous categories — sewage treatment, air pollution reduction, water quality compliance, transparency, and change from time of the last report. View 2016’s report here.
  2. Consider a cruise that has a nature-related project or activity. Some cruises now offer maritime and sea life education programs on board. There are also specialty cruises that exclusively focus on nature or conservation education. This kind of cruise could be a way to teach your family about sea life and delicate ocean ecosystems and the human impact on them.
  3. Offset your carbon footprint. Cruise ships are huge emitters of greenhouse gases. Purchase carbon offsets for your trip. The Swiss foundation myclimate offers an online calculator to gauge your cruise trip’s carbon footprint and the amount needed for offsetting. The David Suzuki Foundation offers a purchaser’s guide to help you select credits responsibly.
  4. Donate to conservation efforts. Factor in a donation to an environmental stewardship or activist organization with your cruise budget. For example, if you are taking an Alaska cruise, donate to causes supporting the conservation of Prince William Sound.
  5. Be responsible while on board. Take along a reusable water bottle instead of using multiple disposable ones. Take short showers. Reuse your towels and linens and request that housekeeping refrain from replacing them during your stay. Recycle your waste in the appropriate containers. Fill out comment cards voicing support for the cruise’s environmental measures and suggesting ideas for improvement.
 Acknowledgments: Miami Herald, Outside MagazinePacific StandardUS Environmental Protection Agency
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“An interesting retirement”: Member Gordon Kelly’s adventures in forestry and duck banding
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“An interesting retirement”: Member Gordon Kelly’s adventures in forestry and duck banding

My family home was in Montreal, and my grandparents had a place in the Laurentians. It was 400 acres of woodland, but as a boy, I remember feeling like I could explore forever. So, I was brought up in two places. And I liked the wild better. I became interested in birds very early. At 13, in 1947, a friend and I found a local bird club, and we were the youngest members in history! Back then, there were rules about kids going to movies or lectures without an adult, so until we were 16 one of our moms had to come. I remember the thrill of going on field trips with experienced bird watchers, who helped me identify birds even just by song! At 16, I had a family member whose sister was married to a forester and I thought that sounded just amazing. I went for an interview when I was 16, but I couldn't be hired for a summer job until I was 17. I was hired that summer and sent to the farthest operation in the St. Maurice Division called Cooper Lake, situated at the headwaters of the Nottaway River which flows into James Bay. [caption id="attachment_33342" align="alignright" width="300" class="right "]Fall folliage in field next to the La Croche river Fall foliage in field next to the La Croche river. Photo by Gordon Kelly[/caption] It was my first time in the Boreal Forest. 1951, Virgin forest, and logging was just beginning. The black spruce...unbelievable. It was then I decided to become a Forester. In 1987, with my son, we purchased our woodlot of 225-acres. There were some red pine plantations on the property dating back to the early 1960s. We have since added another 225-acres for a total of 450 which we manage with my son and grandson who are also Foresters. I can't tell you what it means to me, to my family. It's the most beautiful place, full of memories and stories. And about 20 years ago back in 1996, not far from my house, I was walking on a trail near a swampy area, very overgrown. I noticed a pair of Wood Ducks. As I went exploring, I realized it was an old beaver pond, and that I could pull out some of the alders and other growth. One of my sons, who today manages migratory bird banding stations in the Yukon, at the time was learning to band at Long Point. Word spread and I was contacted by a biologist who asked me to start banding. [caption id="attachment_33345" align="alignleft" width="300"]Image of Gordon Kelly releasing a Wood Duck Gordon Kelly releasing a Wood Duck[/caption] On average, we band 155 ducks per year, some that return. I had one last year that I banded five years ago! And one year we had 255 ducks! It's been an interesting and rewarding retirement indeed! Why do I support Nature Canada? Because education is so important. You see it mostly in the kids, but really so many Canadians don't get out in nature. We've become disconnected. We can't just continue to exploit nature without consequences. I'm a Guardian of Nature monthly donor, and I know that my regular support makes a difference. It means Nature Canada can get people more involved in nature, in making citizens and our governments more aware of the importance of nature conservation.

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5 tips for photographing nature
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5 tips for photographing nature

[caption id="attachment_13928" align="alignleft" width="150"]Picture of Michelle Valberg Michelle Valberg - Photographer, Founding member of Women for Nature, Nikon Ambassador, Nature Photo Contest Judge[/caption] Michelle Valberg is an award winning professional photographer, a Nikon Ambassador, and one of our founding members of the Women for Nature initiative. She is also an important part of our Nature Photo Contest judging panel.  The Nature Photo Contest is a celebration of the plants and animals, landscapes, and nature moments that bring us joy and happiness. What a great way to celebrate Canada’s 150th anniversary year - get outdoors and to connect with nature across the summer months. Explore some of Canada 150 celebrations and national parks; capture great Canadian landscape from coast to coast; discover flora and fauna of all sizes; document nature memories with friends and family this summer and submit your best nature photos for a chance to win prizes.  If you love spending time outside in nature, chances are you’ve taken a few pictures in order to capture the memories. Michelle Valberg has offered us her top 5 tips for photographing nature along with some of her photographs to help illustrate her points for Nature Photography Day! Perhaps they could help take your photos to the next level.


1. Photograph with the best light in mind

If possible, it is ideal to go out in the early morning or late day to photograph. Angles of light are lower and can create more texture and interest in your image.  Shadows and contrast are increased and typically you get more wildlife activity in the early or late day since it is feeding time. Play with front, back and side lighting to see how you can photograph your landscape scene or wildlife in different ways. Most important – watch and change your camera settings to get better results. Michelle Valberg's photo  

2. Composition

Pay close attention to your background and positioning of your subject when photographing wildlife. Perhaps experiment with different foregrounds or backgrounds to create interest. Put your subject off centre (opposed to the centre) using the rule of thirds which will allow the viewer to wander through the image. Change your vantage point often. Composition can make or break your image and it is critical to creating and capturing that first class photograph. Michelle Valberg's photo  

3. Change Perspective

Especially for wildlife, photograph your subject/subjects with a wide lens to showcase them in their environment and alternatively with a telephoto to get up close. Eye to eye contact with animals in your image grabs attention. Look for ways you can capture motion – whether it is a bird in flight or a waterfall. Remember your tripod and change your shutter speeds to achieve different effects. Michelle Valberg's photo Michelle Valberg's photo  

4. Anticipate Behaviour

Watching animal behaviour and anticipating their next move can help you get better results. Pay close attention to what your subject might do next, where it might go and how you can best capture it. An animal can change the tilt of its head ever so slightly and it can go from achieving a good image to a fantastic one. Watch a bird’s wing position or how an animal walks or swims. Remember to always keep a watchful eye on your subject. Michelle Valberg's photo  

5. Shoot, shoot, shoot!

Don’t stop shooting until you have your ultimate image. Always carry a lot of memory cards so you don’t have to worry about how many images you can take. The beauty of nature is all around us and you don’t have to travel long distances to photograph it. Photograph in your backyard, a park or on a trail. Pay close attention to your ISO, shutter and aperture, and always experiment, practice and continue to learn. Try to be unique and creative with your approach so your images stand out and command your viewer’s attention. Michelle Valberg's photo
There you go, Michelle Valberg’s top 5 helpful tips for amateur nature photographers. Want to try them out? Good news! We’re hosting a Nature Photo Contest this summer. This is your chance to test out these pointers and get out into nature. The Nature Photo Contest is a celebration of the plants and animals, landscapes, and nature moments that bring us joy and happiness. Our hope is to encourage more Canadians to get outdoors and to connect with nature across the summer months. This summer is particularly special as we celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday. So go explore this great country and submit your nature photos for a chance win one of our amazing prizes! Our top prize is an incredible Canadian nature adventure from Wild Women Expeditions valued at $1000! Wild Women Expeditions offers a wide variety of outdoor adventures, including canoe and kayak trips, multi-sport adventures, hiking trips and yoga retreats! Choose from one of their many Canadian adventures! Happy Nature Photography Day!
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