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Bird Tweet of the Week:  Eastern Bluebird
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Bird Tweet of the Week: Eastern Bluebird

The Eastern Bluebird is one of Eastern Canada's most colourful species of birds. They often appear in folk and fine art. The bluebirds song is a raspy flute like mix of a warble and a whistle, similar to a robins song but with shorter phrases and more chattering. Eastern bluebirds are short distance migrants that return to Canada from the south-east U.S. during late March leaving again by late October. [caption id="attachment_27862" align="alignleft" width="300"]Image of a Eastern Bluebird Eastern Bluebird[/caption]   Each week we introduce a new bird from the Ottawa-Gatineau area. Alex MacDonald, Nature Canada’s Manager of Protected Areas, shares interesting facts about the birds that live in our communities. Catch up on past episodes here on our website.

The Lovely Ladybug: Natural Pest Controllers for Your Garden
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The Lovely Ladybug: Natural Pest Controllers for Your Garden

[caption id="attachment_33210" align="alignleft" width="150"]becka-tulips Guest blogger Rebecca Kennedy[/caption] This post was written by guest blogger Rebecca Kennedy. Has a Ladybug ever landed on you? You’re in luck because many consider this occurrence a sign of good fortune. As long as you allowed the Ladybug to rest as long as it wished, that is, you didn’t brush it off, the brilliantly coloured beetle will take away your troubles when it finally flies away. ladybug-on-fingerWhether this superstition holds true, the Ladybug is nevertheless a fascinating insect. Also known as a Ladybird or Lady Beetle, most of the Ladybugs we are familiar with belong to the beetle family Coccinellidae. The classic recognizable type stands out on greenery with its distinctive bright red-orange body and black spots. However, Ladybug species vary in colour, with a range of reds, yellows, oranges and browns and some do not have spots at all. There are around 6,000 known species of Lady Beetles worldwide. Of these, more than 150 occur in Canada. Ranging in length from a mere 1 millimetre to over 10 millimetres, females are typically larger than males. The two-spotted (Adalia bipunctata) and thirteen-spotted (Hippodamia tredecimpunctata) species are two examples of common ladybirds found in Canada. There is also the pervasive multicoloured Asian lady beetle (Harmonia axyridis), a non-native species introduced to North America in the 1970s by the U.S. government as a biological pest control agent. First sighted in southern Ontario in 1992, it can be easily distinguished from other Lady Beetles by the M-shaped pattern immediately behind its head. If you’ve ever been in contact with a Ladybug, you may have noticed a teeny bit of yellow excretion on your skin afterwards. This is a foul-smelling fluid that Ladybugs release from their leg joints as a defence mechanism—they are warning predators that they won’t taste good! A 2015 study at the University of Exeter found that ladybugs also use colour as a signal to potential predators—those with more brightly coloured bodies were found to have higher levels of the toxin. Thus the more conspicuous the Ladybug, the less likely it is to be attacked by birds. ladybug-on-green-leafThankfully, the Ladybug’s toxin, though sometimes annoying as an odour, is harmless to humans. In fact, Ladybugs are rather an ideal insect for many of us. In addition to being aesthetically pleasing and a traditional sign of good luck, they do not transmit disease and act as natural pest controllers. They are a boon to gardens and green spaces, as they enthusiastically feed on more than 50 species of aphids—a single Ladybug can consume up to 500 aphids in one day! Lady Beetles will actually lay hundreds of eggs right in aphid colonies. Once the larvae hatch, they immediately start to feast on the nearby nourishment. Besides aphids, Ladybugs may also consume flower nectar, scale insects, small caterpillars, moth eggs, mealybugs, mites, mould, and in some cases … each other. If usual prey sources become scarce, some species of Ladybugs, both adults and larvae, have exhibited an inclination toward cannibalism, consuming eggs, pupae, and other larvae. On that rather interesting note, how can you encourage these natural pest controllers into your backyard? Ladybugs are known to enjoy the pollen flavour of flowering plants like marigolds, angelica, sunflowers, cosmos, roses, and geraniums, as well as herbs like chives, caraway, fennel, and dill. Favoured vegetable plants include cucumbers, peppers, eggplants, and tomatoes. Ladybugs also need water, so leave out shallow bowls (and change often to prevent mosquitos). Acknowledgements: Encyclopedia of Insects, Health Canada, Michigan State University Diagnostic ServicesMother Nature Network, Penn State Department of EntomologyUniversity of Exeter, University of Florida Entomology and Nematology, Virtual Museum of Canada

The Best of Summer: Flowers We Love
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The Best of Summer: Flowers We Love

This blog was written by Nature Canada member Steve Gahbauer and edited by Sam Nurse. Summer is with us and a lot is happening in nature. In early July, sandpipers began their southern migration from breeding grounds in northern Canada. The first to leave are those that did not breed, followed by adult females. With wild berries available in mid-July, Black Bears are packing on weight from what they lost during hibernation. They will gain the most weight in the fall. Late in July, male and female Martens begin to pair up for mating season. The young will be born in March and April. The antlers of Bull Caribou are nearing the end of their growth in early August. The bulls will then shed their antlers in the late fall, after mating. It is also mating season for Little Brown Bats in mid-August. [caption id="attachment_34013" align="alignleft" width="300"]Image of Pink Showy Lady Slipper "Pink Showy Lady Slipper Cypripedium reginae" by Benjamin Smith is licensed under CC BY 2.0[/caption] The related swarming behaviour helps yearlings to identify winter hibernating areas. By late August, Red-winged Blackbirds, too, are beginning their southward migration. The females leave first, followed by males later, reversing the order of their arrival. That’s only the fauna. In the flora there is the wonderful world of orchids, bearing flowers in fantastic shapes and brilliant colours. Orchids are tough, widespread and different from what you would expect. The exotic variety of their flowers indicates adaptability. They tolerate degrees of dryness and mineral deprivation that would kill other plants. Some even thrive in deep shade. Most orchid seeds are too small to store much food. Before they can grow they must take nourishment from a companion fungus. Some orchids give off a pleasant aroma that attracts particular kinds of bees; others mimic the odour of rotting meat to attract pollinating carrion flies. Here in Canada, the most popular and cherished orchid is the Showy Lady’s Slipper, which also grows in the Rouge Park. Ontario is the only province where it flourishes in apparent abundance – at least for now. It is critically at risk in Saskatchewan, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland, and it is vulnerable in Manitoba and Quebec, due to habitat loss. For habitat, the Showy Lady’s Slipper orchid prefers chalky wetlands and open, wooded swamps with Tamarack and Black Spruce. It grows taller than related species. In June and July, it displays its spectacular soft pink to bright magenta lip, with white sepals and petals. In the context of flowers we love and of Canada’s 150th anniversary, here is a list of the provincial and territorial flowers: [custom_table style="1"] [caption id="attachment_34017" align="alignright" width="300"]Image of a Wood Lily Wood Lily[/caption]

 British Columbia: Pacific Dogwood  Alberta: Prickly Wild Rose  Saskatchewan: Wood Lily
 Manitoba: Prairie Crocus  Ontario: White Trillium  Quebec: Blue Flag Iris
 New Brunswick: Marsh Blue Violet  Nova Scotia: Trailing Arbutus   Newfoundland: Pitcher Plant
 PEI: Pink Lady’s Slipper  Yukon: Fireweed  N.W. Territories: Mountain Avens
 Nunavut: Purple Suffrifrage
[/custom_table] Stay tuned for the second blog on the other aspect of summer - insects! Sources: Canadian Wildlife Federation, Ontario Nature, Nature Conservancy of Canada, Toronto Metro, Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, and field notes. Earlier Nature Notes are archived and accessible on www.rougevalleynaturalists.com by clicking on “Nature Notes”.
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5 Reasons I Love Tidnish Bay
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5 Reasons I Love Tidnish Bay

[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. When someone asks me my favourite place in the world, I don’t have to think twice before answering Tidnish Bay, Nova Scotia. There are few things in life I enjoy more than a quiet day spent sitting by the ocean shore with a good book or a pair of binoculars.When asked why I pick Tidnish – the answer comes easily as well. The community The people I’ve met over summers spent in the area have always been exceptionally kind. They are always eager to share their latest stories and invite newcomers into the community as readily as family. There is a great community spirit and I’ve enjoyed many evenings filled with pleasant conversation, laughter and even music. With weekly events like the Pic n’ Grin, there is always something to do and someone to share a laugh with. The beach It may well sound like a cliché to talk about loving the beach, but I’m not talking about just any beach here! I love a beach with tides and that is great for swimming, kayaking and breathtaking walks along the red sand flats. Let’s not forget, the Tidnish coast is lined with red rock cliffs which are truly a sight to see. It's also a great spot for bird watching and it isn’t uncommon to catch sight of a seal or a dolphin swimming in the distance. [caption id="attachment_33281" align="alignright" width="300"]Photo by Amanda Simard Photo by Amanda Simard[/caption] The artisanal shops From pewter crafts to rug hooking and even wine, there isn’t a shortage of artisanal, craft and gift shops in the area. I love spending the afternoon in nearby Pugwash, hitting up the various craft shops, or heading down to Amherst to visit Diane Fitzpatrick’s rug hooking studio. For wine, there’s Winegarden Estates just across the New Brunswick border, or Jost Vineyard a ways down in Malagash. The trails For those days when I’m looking to change things up from walking along the sandy shore, there are plenty of trails nearby. Some are through forest while other are through marshlands or along the coast. The sights are amazing and there is plenty of wildlife to keep an eye out for. The sunset Wouldn’t you know it? Another cliche! What can I say? A gorgeous sunset across an ocean horizon – sign me up anytime! Add in a bonfire and some marshmallows, it’s hard to think of a more perfect summer evening.

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Ottawa: 5 Great Hikes in Your Own Backyard
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Ottawa: 5 Great Hikes in Your Own Backyard

[caption id="attachment_33972" align="alignleft" width="150"]Image of Greg Nesbitt Guest Blogger Greg Nesbitt[/caption] This blog was written by guest blogger Greg Nesbitt. Guest blogger Greg Nesbitt is doing a series of his choice for the top five hikes to do in and around Ottawa! The first of the series is on Luskville Falls, Quebec. Hike 1: Luskville Falls - A great workout with a lot of natural beauty [caption id="attachment_33940" align="alignright" width="284"]Image of Luskville Falls Luskville Falls. Photo by Greg Nesbitt[/caption] When Prime Minster King designated Gatineau Park as federal land and part of the National Capital Region in 1938, he gave area residents a 361 square kilometres outdoor wonderland. The park has year-round activities including endless hiking trails with all levels of difficulty. One of my favourite trails in the park is located just outside Luskville, Quebec. Luskville Falls provides hikers with nice views of the valley and a challenging terrain. Described by the National Capital Commission as difficult, the hike winds its way past the falls and over several undulating rocks. I first discovered this trail when I was looking for a challenging hike in the Ottawa area, after doing Vancouver’s Grouse Mountain Grind. Similar to our neighbours out West, this is a demanding hike with plenty to see along the way, including natural waterfalls and multiple rock formations. The trail is well marked with arrows up and down and two different paths for you to traverse. There are magnificent views of the Ottawa River below and several places to get stunning photos. This hike is recommended for anyone who can handle a difficult trail and doesn’t mind earning their views of the valley.  In addition to the hike, there are plenty of picnic tables and areas to congregate at the bottom of the hills before or after your adventure to the top. Helpful Information[one_third] [caption id="attachment_33949" align="alignright" width="150"]By the Numbers: Elevation: 290 meters to the Fire Tower Distance: Approximately 2.25km each way (4.5km round trip) Average Time to get to the top: 60 minutes By the Numbers:
Elevation: 290 meters to the Fire Tower
Distance: Approximately 2.25km each way (4.5km round trip)
Average Time to get to the top: 60 minutes[/caption] [/one_third] [one_third] [caption id="attachment_33947" align="alignright" width="150"]Best Time To Go: Spring gives you the best conditions to see the falls with maximum winter runoff but can be muddy. Best Time To Go:
Spring gives you the best conditions to see the falls with maximum winter runoff but can be muddy.[/caption] [/one_third] [one_third_last] [caption id="attachment_33950" align="alignright" width="150"] How to get out there: Highway / Autoroute 148 leaving the Alymer section of Gatineau (The turnoff is just before you get to the village of Luskville) How to get out there:
Highway / Autoroute 148 leaving the Alymer section of Gatineau
(The turnoff is just before you get to the village of Luskville)[/caption] [/one_third_last] Enjoy and hope to see you out there!

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

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!

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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