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Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Eh?
Flip Nicklen/Minden Pictures
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Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Eh?

This blog is written by guest blogger Tina-Louise Rossit. Task someone with naming a Canadian species and they are likely to mention the polar bear, the moose, the beaver, or the loon. However, we really do have more animals than simply those on our coins! Canada is so spacious, and there are thousands of animals that have found their place amongst the different ecosystems. There are the mountain animals, the forest dwellers, those accustomed to the tundra and those of the sea. Today’s honorary species is the legendary sea unicorn, the Monodon monoceros, or in plain terms, the Narwhal. This “sea unicorn” has a unique feature that has allowed humans to come up with spectacular stories about the it for centuries. Let's uncover the truth to those tales!


[caption id="attachment_35979" align="aligncenter" width="800"] Photo by Glenn Williams[/caption] The most common misconception is that the Narwhal has a horn, when in actuality - it’s a modified tooth! The Narwhal belongs to the family of toothed whales called the Odontocetes. Its closest relative, the beluga, has the similar stocky body, short head and absent dorsal fin. However, unlike other toothed whales, the Narwhal only has two teeth, one incisor tooth that remains embedded in the skull, and the second incisor tooth that elongates into a long, spiral tusk. [caption id="attachment_35978" align="alignleft" width="300"] Range of narwhal populations in Arctic Canada (From Narwhal, Underwater World)[/caption] But why this feature? What’s its purpose? To find out, marine biologists and dentists have teamed up to study the Narwhal in its home habitat. There are three recognized populations of Narwhals for which two of them are the cold Canadian waters of Baffin Bay and Hudson Bay. These expeditions brought back fascinating results. Firstly, the tusk isn’t even used for defense or sparring as one may hypothesize. Nor it is for impaling prey or to break up ice sheets! Secondly, only males have them. Females may develop them on rare occasions and even rarer is a male with two tusks. Interestingly, Narwhals don’t have any other teeth. That means their mouths are toothless. This may be why they eat fish and squid that are nice and easy to slurp down. Yum! Here’s what else; with an exceptional amount of nerve endings from the base to the tip of these tusks, the Narwhal tusk is a giant sensory organ. The nerve endings can detect even the slightest changes in temperatures, salt content and pressure of the waters. With only males with tusks, it means that sexual selection played a big part in its evolutionary development. If the males with longer tusks and more nerve endings were able to detect the location of females to mate, they would be the one to pass on their genes. [caption id="attachment_35980" align="alignright" width="300"] One of these is Real, from Pierre Pomet's "Histoire générale des drogues, traitant des plantes, des animaux, et des minéraux." (Paris, 1694)[/caption]   Next, scientists are going down to the molecular level to map out the mechanism for this trait expression. What genes signal the spiral formation of the tusk? What are the structures of the hydroxyapatite crystals, which are the main mineral in enamel and dentin? Do the structures differ from other toothed-whales and other mammals? And why? Until we find out more, there’s still a magical aura around the Narwhal’s natural history. There aren’t too many animals whose mythical nature have graced as many history books, or that have inspired legend and lore since the time of Ancient Greece. Despite the mystery of the Narwhal, if one thing is for sure, it is that these sea-unicorns will continue to leave us in awe.
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Information used in this post is from the following sources: Narwhal: At a Glance Narwhal Tusk Research Narwhal: Monodon monoceros COSEWIC: Assessment and Update Status Report For a dentist, the narwhal’s smile is a mystery of evolution

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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Imperiled Species of the Ottawa River Watershed
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Imperiled Species of the Ottawa River Watershed

This blog was written by Sean Feagan. Environment and Climate Change Canada is currently conducting public engagement for the Ottawa River Watershed Study. This study aims to gather information about how best to protect, manage, and conserve the watershed, in part through public consultation. [caption id="attachment_35830" align="alignleft" width="300"] Ottawa River Watershed[/caption] The Ottawa River Watershed covers an immense area across two provinces (Ontario and Quebec), and has vast importance to the people, economy, and history of Canada. In addition, the Ottawa River Watershed contains an exceptional array of flora and fauna. These species inhabit the aquatic environments of the Ottawa River and associated tributaries, as well as surrounding terrestrial habitats, which include a diversity of wetlands and extensive forests. While the Ottawa River Watershed still contains many pristine areas, particularly upriver, it has experienced an extensive history of intense industrial activity, including logging extraction, dam construction for hydroelectric generation, and pulp and paper milling. Additionally, much of the land area of the watershed, particularly downstream, has been altered for agricultural activity and industrial development. Given these impacts, many of the species contained within the watershed have declined or become otherwise imperiled. Here are a few examples of the over thirty species at risk within the watershed: Perhaps the most threatened species within the watershed is the American eel, which has declined by up to 98%, mainly as a result of river damming along the Ottawa and St. Lawrence Rivers. There are ongoing efforts to help the species recover within the watershed, including the catch and release of over 400 eels into the Ottawa River last summer to facilitate their movement. While ladder and bypass systems have been installed at some of the dams along the Ottawa, many others feature no mitigation measures to facilitate eel movement. While the Government of Ontario has released a recovery strategy for the species, and other [caption id="attachment_35831" align="alignright" width="150"] Spotted Turtle, photo by Helmy Oved.[/caption] conservation efforts are underway, the long-term persistence of the American eel is in serious peril. The Ottawa River Watershed supports a diverse assemblage of fascinating turtle species. The eight species of turtle inhabit a diversity of habitats within the Ottawa River and associated tributaries, as well as neighboring wetlands. Seven species are considered at risk, including the spotted turtle spotted turtle (Endangered), the Blanding’s turtle, stinkpot turtle, spiny softshell turtle, and wood turtle (each federally listed as Threatened), as well as the snapping turtle and north mapping turtle (both listed as Special Concern). Recovery planning for these species is underway, but they continue to be threatened by accidental mortality from roads, poaching, and habitat loss. The Ottawa River Watershed also supports a rich avifauna. [caption id="attachment_35829" align="alignleft" width="150"] Least bittern, photo by Steve Arena.[/caption] Perhaps one of the strangest bird species in the watershed is the least bittern, which is a member of heron family, listed federally as Threatened. It is one of the smallest herons in the world, as it typically measures from about 28 to 36 cm in length, weighing up to around 100 g. The species is elusive, as it is highly secretive, possesses excellent camouflage, and freezes in place when altered of potential danger. The species usually inhabits cattail marshes, many of which have been destroyed or altered for development and agriculture. Many of the confirmed breeding sites that remain in Canada exist within the Ottawa River Watershed in Ontario. [caption id="attachment_35828" align="alignright" width="150"] Kirtland's Warbler, photo by Joel Trick.[/caption] The diverse forests of the Ottawa River Watershed supports a rich community of songbirds, including many species of North American wood warblers. One of the rarest species in North America, the Kirtland’s warbler, has two confirmed records of nesting in Canada, within the Ottawa River Watershed near Petawawa, Ontario. As part of its federal recovery strategy, critical habitat for this species has been identified at a few select sites within Renfrew County. Other imperiled warbler species contained within the watershed include the spectacular cerulean warbler (Endangered), and the Canada warbler (Threatened). It is clear that the Ottawa River Watershed possess a spectacular array of wildlife and plant species, many of which are imperiled. If you would like to voice your opinion regarding the value and conservation of these species within the watershed, participate in the Ottawa River Watershed Study online at Placespeak, or participate in an upcoming meeting on March 1st, held in Gatineau, QC.

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Our Thoughts on the Environmental Laws Introduced to Parliament
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Our Thoughts on the Environmental Laws Introduced to Parliament

[caption id="attachment_31283" align="alignleft" width="150"] Stephen Hazell, Director of Conservation and General Counsel[/caption] The proposed Canadian Impact Assessment Act, or Bill C-69, was introduced to Parliament this week, and the Director of Conservation and General Counsel at Nature Canada, Stephen Hazell, has shared the organization's thoughts. In the video below Stephen shares thoughts on the reform, and touches on whether or not these environmental laws will actually help Canada to reverse its losses in biodiversity and reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. Overall, the proposed Canadian Impact Assessment Act is taking steps forward on the Harper government's 2012 law, and, as Stephen mentions below, it is "on balance, a pretty good effort at improving environmental assessment." The good news is that the law presents a defined process for engaging communities - meaning that we will now have environmental assessment professionals consulting with Indigenous and local communities. Moving forward, the government will make decisions on whether or not projects go through based on the input from the environmental assessment agency, and is required to publicly justify the reasoning behind their decision making. The bad news is that, simply put, the budget and other policy statements are not included. The budget is, as Stephen mentions below, "the most important set of decisions that any government makes in any given year," and Nature Canada believes that there should be an environmental analysis of the budget and other proposed policies to ensure the key issues are addressed and that Canada is positioned for a sustainable future. For more detail on Nature Canada's thoughts on this proposed bill, and to find out how this bill will impact Canadians, watch the video below.

To support stronger environmental laws here in Canada, make sure to sign our petition and speak up for stronger environmental laws!
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Conserving the future of Biodiversity in Canada, one talk at a time
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Conserving the future of Biodiversity in Canada, one talk at a time

[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. Did you know in Canada the Black Footed Ferret was once extirpated, and was only reintroduced into the Grasslands National Park in 2009? (Danielle Fraser). Biodiversity loss and population decline in several species has become a big problem, especially in Canada. Provinces such as British Columbia and Ontario are rich in biodiversity, which also makes them have higher rates of threatened or endangered species. On February 2nd, The Canadian Museum of Nature held a series of speeches from expert panelist to talk about the current state of biodiversity in Canada and what Canada as a whole could be doing different. There was a consensus that although Canada is trying, there is still a lot of work that needs to be done to be able to conserve our lands and biodiversity better. We need to stop looking at biodiversity loss as an international problem, and see it is a problem in our homelands. Panda bears tend to be a poster species for endangered species worldwide, but in Canada, there are 40 species that have been assessed as more endangered than Pandas. (Dan Kraus) [caption id="attachment_30310" align="alignright" width="300"]Image of a Black-footed Ferret Photo of a Image of a Black-footed Ferret. Flickr Photo by USFWS Mountain-Prairie (CC BY 2.0)[/caption] Problems such as over exploitation, pollution and habitat loss and degradation (including climate change) are prime reasons as to why biodiversity loss is still a prominent issue. Looking into the problem of habitat loss and degradation should be a starting point for trying to solve this problem. As Daniel Kraus pointed out, even if as a whole, problems such as pollution or climate change are fixed, it will not solve anything if there are no habitats for species to come back to. To look into this issue more, Changing the Conversation is hosting a 4 part series on Biodiversity Conversations: How Important are the common loon and polar bears to Canadians. The third one coming up, on February 16th, will look into drivers and barriers behind biodiversity. The Women for Nature expert panelist will be looking at the local, regional and national resolutions of biodiversity conversations, the need to identify critical habitat, and the role of keystone species. They will dive more into what could be done individually and collectively. They will continue to tackle the biodiversity issue in Canada, one conversation at a time. To listen in, joins us in partnership with Women for Nature February 22nd, 1-2:30 pm EST here

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Mentorship: A Conversation with Women for Nature’s Sharolyn Mathieu Vettese
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Mentorship: A Conversation with Women for Nature’s Sharolyn Mathieu Vettese

[caption id="attachment_35323" align="alignleft" width="150"] Marsha Mann, Women for Nature[/caption] [caption id="attachment_35323" align="alignright" width="150"] Sharolyn Mathieu Vettese, Women for Nature[/caption] Featuring Women for Nature member's Sharolyn Mathieu Vettese. Written by fellow Women for Nature member Marsha Mann.  M: When were you a mentor? S: My first, and only experience as a mentor was to a top 20 under 20 women in Canada. She had wanted a mentor who was political and environmental. Since David Suzuki’s daughter was unavailable, the organization approached me, and of course I agreed. I had been a Green Party candidate both federally and provincially, and I was also an environmentalist. I believe in democracy, and the importance of having a choice on the ballot, and to step up when needed to make things happen. My participation brought about several changes, such as candidates having their parties along with their names listed on the ballot. I practice environmentalism every day to reduce waste, and be considerate of the wildlife around me. I took every opportunity to educate my own children about the importance of our environment and worked toward reducing my family’s carbon footprint. various NatureHood ActivitiesI met my mentee when she was just graduating from high school. She was academically accomplished and a school leader. She was confident, had ambitious goals, and she was going to change the world. I thought this arrangement would last one year during her first year at university, but it lasted for 5 until she had got her Masters from Oxford University. It was satisfying for me to see someone I had been there for doing well and making changes in world. If I can do it again and make a difference I would. The world is changing rapidly, climate change is already happening exponentially and we need strong leaders who can help our planet. So, when Jodi asked me to consider being a mentor for Women for Nature, I said sure. M: How did you arrange your meetings with your mentee? S: I made myself available by any form of communication including phone, text, email, and, of course, in person. I have not yet been matched with the Women for Nature mentor program, but I am looking forward to it in the next round. M: How is mentoring different than say, coaching or managing? S: Managing is more about expectations, especially work, but mentoring is about caring about the whole person. It is more like nurturing. Whatever she was facing, or needed I was there to support her. Her family gave me a plant to thank me for being the soil that made her grow. M: What inspired you to become involved with Women for Nature? S: I was one of the first women who donated to Nature Canada in a significant way for over 30 years. Jodi said she wanted to engage and involve more women like me who are committed to nature, which became known as "Women for Nature". I think it is important for women to choose their own causes, and be leaders in those causes. For me, it is the preservation of our wilderness. M: Who inspired you? S: My father was always very supportive of whatever initiative I wanted to take. He had an adventurous spirit, and was always willing to try something new. He wasn’t afraid. I later appreciated how big of a person he was since he had four daughters and no sons at a time when sons were preferred. He never made us feel we were second-rate. He encouraged all of us to go to university at a time when many women weren’t. My father made me feel I wasn’t handicapped being a woman. My mother was more traditional, and supportive in other ways, but I think my father was the bigger influence in my life. He was an original thinker. He got me thinking how important it is to get women in a leadership position to implement gender equality, and be environmentalists if there is going to be a cultural shift. M: Sharolyn is still an environmentalist. Her company, SMV Energy Solutions offers services in cap and trade, and provides simple smart solutions to reduce energy consumption which positively impact the triple bottom line. It was a pleasure to spend time with Sharolyn and getting to know her.

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Women for Nature Join Conversation Series on Biodiversity Conservation in Canada
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Women for Nature Join Conversation Series on Biodiversity Conservation in Canada

[caption id="attachment_29288" align="alignleft" width="150"]Image of Jaime Clifton Jaime Clifton-Ross[/caption] This blog is written by Jaime Clifton-Ross, Research Curator, CRC Research and Changing the Conversation, Royal Roads University. The rate at which biodiversity loss is increasing is overwhelming. The WWF 2016 Living Planet Report revealed that 67% of wild animals worldwide will disappear by 2020. After examining the habitats of mammals, birds, reptiles, fish, and amphibians across Canada, WWF also reported that 50% of our wildlife species are in decline. Given these alarming facts, it may be unclear about what can be done and how individuals and communities can take action. Raising civic awareness can also be challenging. To mobilize around this critical issue, Nature Canada and Women for Nature collaborated with Changing the Conversation (CTC), a dialogue platform established by Professor Ann Dale co-chair of Women for Nature. Intended to develop meaning and purpose through conversation and storytelling, CTC re-enlarges public spaces and re-engages different generations in virtual real-time e-Dialogues. As part of this collaboration, we curated a four part conversation series called the Biodiversity Conversations: How important are the common loon and polar bears to Canadians? Intended to increase awareness, engagement, and literacy on biodiversity loss and conservation in Canada, it features expert panelists from Women for Nature. With female researchers, practitioners, and civil society leaders from diverse sectors in conversation, our hope is to stimulate ideas and discuss strategies to help inform the public as well as decision-makers on the topic.Image of a mother and daughter in a forest Our first conversation took place on Wednesday, September 27th and featured Professor Ann Dale (Moderator), Dr. Dawn Bazely, Dr. Valerie Behan-Pelletier, Holly Clermont, Chloe Dragon Smith, Eleanor Fast, Susan Gosling, and Anne Murray. Called What is Biodiversity and Why is it Important, e-panelists explored why biodiversity conservation is so important and shared compelling definitions, informative resources, and even relevant art projects. While sharing personal experiences, they also discussed how technology and social media have affected society’s connection to nature and how they can be used to encourage people to spend more time outdoors, specifically children. They finished this informative conversation by discussing barriers to acting on biodiversity conservation. The next conversation, From the Local to the Global, is schedule for the end of November 2017. Centred on the Monarch Butterfly, e-panelists will explore the need for global governance systems essential to protecting critical habitats and migratory paths. As biodiversity, like climate change, does not respect political borders, we require a broader systems approach for its conservation. Stay tuned for more details, including e-panelists and the official date. Click here to read or download the full conversation. Share your thoughts on Twitter @NatureCanada and @CRC_Research using #BiodiversityTalks. Want to learn more about biodiversity conservation? Check out this resource library featuring articles, reports, videos, data visualizations, and other imperative resources on biodiversity. Curated by Women for Nature, Changing the Conversation, and Nature Canada, we’ll continue to update it with resources shared during the conversations.

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How Declining Biodiversity Limits Your Medicine Cabinet
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How Declining Biodiversity Limits Your Medicine Cabinet

[caption id="attachment_34470" align="alignleft" width="150"]Image of Cara Davidson, Guest Blogger Cara Davidson, Guest Blogger[/caption] This blog is written by guest blogger Cara Davidson. The pharmaceutical industry is often thought of as highly scientific and thus, unintentionally distanced from nature in our minds. While the complexity of modern drugs cannot be denied, neither can the fact that some of the most widely prescribed drugs come from biological compounds found in our environment. Unfortunately, as we continue to lose biodiversity via urban development, pollution and extinction, we forfeit the opportunity to use parts the natural world for our benefit. You’re likely already familiar with medications sourced from biology without even knowing it! Drugs like aspirin and penicillin come from Mother Earth. Here are some examples you may not have heard of:Image of the base of a tree

  1. African slime molds that treat tumours resistant to taxol (a popular (also plant-derived) chemotherapy drug).
  2. Cyclosporine from American and Norwegian soils, used as an immunosuppressant to prevent organ transplant rejection.
Surprisingly, some researchers estimate that we’ve examined under 1% of Earth’s known species for their medical value, yet we rely on so many. Imagine our medical potential if we took care of the environment, preserved our ecosystems and studied the magnitude of Earth’s diversity with a purpose: health. Biodiversity plays many roles in the well being of humans - medications are just one example. Nature products are essential to many laboratory research and diagnostic operations, energy generation and toxic waste remediation, among others. Collectively, humans must become more conscious of how beneficial biodiversity truly is. The most devastating part is that no one knows what we’re missing out on and we may never have the chance to discover it. Unless, of course, we take serious steps to preserve our planet's diversity. If we don’t, it could ultimately cost us our lives. Acknowledgments: OurFuturePlanetRebuilding the Unity of Health and the Environment: A New Vision of Environmental Health for the 21st Century, Government of Canada
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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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A conversation between Women for Nature members, Professor Ann Dale and Candice Batista
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A conversation between Women for Nature members, Professor Ann Dale and Candice Batista

[caption id="attachment_32495" align="alignleft" width="150"]Image of Candice Batista Candice Batista, Women for Nature Member[/caption] Featuring Women for Nature member Professor Ann Dale. Written by fellow Women for Nature member Candice Batista.  I had the opportunity to interview fellow Woman for Nature, Professor Ann Dale (who is also the co-chair for Women for Nature) about her love of nature and what led her to become a leader in environmental stewardship in Canada. When I read her resume I was blown away, I mean this woman is impressive; she’s received national and international recognition for her research in the field of sustainable community development. Her research on governance, innovation and community vitality is designed to provide useful knowledge to Canadian decision-makers. [caption id="attachment_26965" align="alignright" width="150"]Image of Ann Dale Professor Ann Dale, co-chair for Women for Nature[/caption] She is deeply committed to online conversations on critical public policy issues and novel research dissemination tools, such as her YouTube channel (yep she has her own channel) HEADTalks. As well, she is an active researcher leading MC3, a climate change adaptation and mitigation research program studying best practices and community innovations in throughout British Columbia. Wow right? Our conversation was so inspiring, she, like me, has loved animals her whole life. Here’s a closer look at this inspiring lady. Candice Batista: Why did you get involved with women for nature?  Ann Dale: Let me start at the beginning, I was a tomboy, I was always outside, in fact when my parents made me come inside, they were punishing me.  So it’s kind of ironic that I ended up in academics. If I had become a wildlife biologist, I would be able to be outside most of the time. I have always loved animals.  I’ve had dogs since I was six years old and I would not be the person I am today if those animals had not been in my life. I never really had a definitive a career path, like all the guys I grew up with that wanted to be doctors and lawyers, I did not know what I wanted to be. But there were two criteria that I used for my jobs; first, it is going to make a difference and the second was I was going to learn something, learn something to improve myself and that guided my career choices. I followed my heart and never lost my love for being outside. I am an avid swimmer and in my late 30’s I became a part-time gardener, so anything I could do to be outside would work. With Women for Nature, I saw a way to empower younger women to make a difference through this group in many different ways.  Biodiversity conservation is the social imperative for this decade and the next decade.  There is no second chance. CB: We really need to get our acts together when it comes to the loss of biodiversity and conservation. AD: I don’t think it’s going to take as long for people to get our act together as it did with climate change because people can now see and feel climate change, I mean everyone is talking about this past winter in Canada. So people can see even more loss of biodiversity and once they start making critical connections between biodiversity, climate change and sustainability, I think we will start moving fast. What would Canada be like without any polar bears or the call of the common loon in the spring? CB: What advice do you have for future Women of Nature? Image of Professor Ann DaleAD: Learn as much as you can about your neighbourhood, get outside, walk it, live it, breathe it. One of the things I have learned in my travelling is you need to walk, to get to really know a place. Get as much education as you can in so many different areas, be as ecologically literate as you are professionally literate. We have so much to learn from nature, there is so much wisdom if you just keep your eyes, your ears and your heart open to what is out there. CB: What does nature really mean to you?  AD: Nature to me is everything outside. That even means bringing nature back into our cities, nature makes cities more livable. The other day there were two raccoons stuck in a garbage can near our condo and nobody knew what to do with them. So I just put a stick in and they crawled out, We need to share our space with the ‘others’, if you see a live worm on the pavement following a rain storm, take a moment and move it back onto the grass. I would like to add that I will be leading a series of on-line virtual conversations on why biodiversity conversation is the human imperative of this century, with other women from Women for Nature, starting this September. You can listen in to these e-conversations at here.


"There is nothing more important to me than the conservation and sustainability of Nature. Working with Nature Canada to ensure that future generations have the opportunity to enjoy nature, like I did when I was a child, is simply imperative to me. We only have one planet. We have a responsibility to take care of it. In the same way it takes care of us.” Candice Batista, Eco-Journalist, Women for Nature member
 
“Nature’s future, our future, requires us to collaborate, innovate, and lead.  We are working together to sustain biodiversity and heart-felt connection to nature across this great country.” Prof. Ann Dale and Dr. Brenda Kenny, Co-chairs, Women for Nature
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