Skip to main content

nature perspective

We have degraded, fragmented and paved over the majority of natural lands, and the RBG is nobly trying to preserve what they have managed to save. As we have noted before, conservation isn't enough, we need restoration. As population density increases, these natural lands will become further degraded. By focusing on limiting trails to save the remnant, we miss the opportunity to re-evaluate the larger context of roads, parking lots, and unsuitable development in natural areas.
RBG protects endangered species
Trails reworked, protection areas created

, The Hamilton Spectator, March 11/10

The Royal Botanical Gardens wants to preserve the few remaining green spaces large enough to support endangered plants, amphibians and predator animals such as bald eagles and bobcats.

To do it, four special protection areas are being created in Cootes Paradise and Hendrie Valley, part of a natural lands stewardship program unveiled at an open house last night.

Tys Theysmeyer, head of conservation, says the need is urgent in an already heavily populated area expected to attract 500,000 new residents in the next 25 years.

"The pileated woodpecker generally needs a minimum of 200 hectares of older forest, which is hard to come up with around here. There are only three places left -- Borer's Creek Valley, the north shore of Cootes Paradise and Dundas Valley. It's the same with the bald eagle," he said, referring to a pair that appears to be nesting for a second year in Cootes.

To make the protection zones work, gardens staff are closing one trail near the eagles' nest and one in Hendrie Valley, while reopening three on the south shore of Cootes. They're also building boardwalks, lookouts and viewing platforms so visitors can watch eagles flying to and from their nest tree and gaze over the new Pasture Swamp special protection area in Hendrie Valley.

"It's boring to go somewhere that people have driven everything else out," he said. "It's better to stand on a platform and see a place that's full of stuff."

He hopes that giving names to former blank spots on the gardens' map will help educate people about the importance of sanctuaries to save endangered species.

People think of the Rock Garden and Arboretum, but Theysmeyer says they don't always realize the RBG owns 900 hectares of natural land in Hamilton and Burlington, areas that cost a lot to maintain with 27 kilometres of trails, seven boardwalks, 17 bridges and seven parking lots -- land that is home to more than 800 plant species and more than 250 bird species as well as fish, amphibians, reptiles and 37 mammal species.

"We need to remind people of the need to support the gardens financially through donations, bequests and especially memberships. We have to raise at least half of our meagre budget, and we have to fulfil our mission as a botanical garden as well as maintain the natural lands."

Theysmeyer said the gardens will spend $800,000 this year on species monitoring and infrastructure work in the natural areas, about as much as it costs to maintain one of the formal garden areas.

emcguinness@thespec.com
905-526-4650



Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Urquhart Butterfly Garden speaker series

A lovely butterfly garden is the perfect setting for this annual speaker series. August 4, 2018, Guest speaker: Doreen Nicoll You cannot have Monarch Butterflies without milkweed.  Doreen Nicoll has recently become a heroine for monarch butterflies, by insisting on her rights to grow milkweed in her naturalized garden in Burlington. Doreen  Nicoll has long understood that garden with nature and not against her is the best thing for our planet. She also knows that native plants are great at attracting butterflies and bees of all species. Doreen will be the first presenter in the Summer Series at the Urquhart Butterfly Garden and her topic will be Monarchs and Their Milkweed and naturalized gardening. She has wealth of information and is fun as well! The session will begin at 11 am Saturday on August 4 and last approximately one hour.  Please bring a chair. If it rains the session will be cancelled. For more information about the Urquhart Butterfly Garden please visit ur

stepping up the battle for trails

I share the columnist's (see below) angst about some of the trail closures in Cootes Paradise and the observation that the impacts of walking on habitat are less damaging than driving. Nevertheless, I can appreciate that some of the trails can and should be closed to preserve sensitive habitat. It is because Cootes is surrounded by a city that the impacts of both cars and yes, even feet, can cumulatively degrade the integrity of this nature sanctuary. Blocking trails with bushes generally seems to occur on "unofficial" trails, though I have   previously expressed my concern with closing trails that once provided access through Cootes to hook up with the Spencer Creek Trail in Dundas. The utility of a trail as a path to someplace, rather than just a recreational loop, means a lot to me , and I have hoped the RBG would reconsider the trails layout with this in mind. Again, with so many people accessing Cootes, on foot and on mountain-bikes, the threat

Turtle Watching: Volunteers Needed

By fragmenting the western end of Cootes Paradise with a four lane highway (Cootes Drive 1936) and McMaster parking (1969), car drivers gain at the expense of intact habitat for a multitude of species. Road kill on Cootes accounts for a severe threat to the survival of at risk species, and perhaps none so glaringly as the slow moving turtles who inhabit the remnant marsh. Turtle, south of Cootes Drive near Spencer Creek. Photo r.k . A local volunteer group has, for the last few years, formed to assist the turtles and increase awareness, and (hopefully) survival rates.  Please consider giving some of your time to the turtles of Cootes Paradise. April 2012 Turtles will begin to move from their wintering sites in late May and their peak nesting period is mid-June. Dundas Turtle Watch identifies, monitors and rescues turtles at risk from traffic, and protects nests from predation wherever possible.  The group  is  looking for people with a digital camera  who are  prepa