3 months ago

NCC Magazine - Spring 2017


COAST TO COAST Small Acts of Conservation Five things you can do right now to help nature in your backyard or on your balcony Many of us steward a small piece of Canada. It could be a recreational property or a few square metres in an urban backyard. While these places are not a wilderness or a wildlife preserve, they are all still a part of nature, and they have a role in conservation. Here’s a checklist of five small acts of conservation we can all take to help nature, which will also benefit you and your community. GETTY IMAGES. 4 SPRING 2017

COAST TO COAST 2 4 ISTOCK. 1Be for the birds The Baltimore oriole or scarlet tanager on your property today may have been in Venezuela when you were shoveling snow or skiing. Every year, billions of songbirds make the journey to Canada for one simple reason: the explosion of life that happens in our northern spring makes it a great place to raise a family. Sadly, migratory songbirds have been rapidly declining. While many species remain common, they are at risk because of steep population declines. For example, the wood thrush and barn swallow are both considered at risk because their populations in Canada have declined by more than 75 per cent since 1970. You can help by creating migratory bird pit-stops on your property. Planting clusters of native shrubs or trees can provide important habitat. If every Canadian with a single-detached house provided just one small patch of vegetation for songbirds in their yard, we’d add more than 7 million new sites for nesting and resting. Soak it all in On many yards and properties, water no longer sits and soaks into the ground, but runs off roofs, driveways, fields and lawns into drains and eventually into our streams and lakes. One of the biggest issues for Canada’s freshwater is too much runoff, which carries sediments, nutrients and pollutants into our streams and lakes. This can clog streams with silt and cause algal blooms in even very big lakes, such as Lake Erie and Lake Winnipeg. Where you can, slow the flow. Hold water on your property in rain barrels, rain gardens, wetlands or other natural habitats. Make sure the water that leaves your property is as clean as it can be. Remember, the more water that infiltrates the ground on your property, the more you are helping to conserve Canada’s freshwater habitats. 3Cover it up A study on the benefits of conserved forests by TD Bank Group and the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) found that an acre of conserved forest can provide up to $18,000 in important services, such as reducing floods, removing air pollution and sequestering carbon, every year. Not only are trees the original (and still the best) carbon capture and storage method ever developed, they literally create habitat in what was once thin air. When we fill that space above our heads with limb and leaf, we create new habitats. There are millions of places in our cities and around our homes that could support more trees. If you can, find a place to plant a native tree on your property, or support a forest restoration project at NCC. You’ll be helping create important habitats, and making the world a cooler place. Know your place Unfortunately, particularly for the eight in 10 Canadians who live in cities, we are losing our nature knowledge, and with it, an understanding of our connectedness to other living things and the natural world. The good news is that learning about nature is getting easier. While a walk through the woods or grasslands with an elder or experienced naturalist may still be the best way to learn, a few clicks on the internet can reveal not only the species in and around your home, but also how to identify them. Even learning about five new species a year can change the way you see the world. As you get to know wild things, they start to reveal themselves. What appears as a blanket of forest or prairie becomes a richer tapestry of life. Join us! This year’s Conservation Volunteers season launches April 24! 5Leave some wild Our challenge in Canada is that while we have the rare opportunity to protect some of the world’s last true wilderness in our northlands, we have lost significant amounts of our natural habitats in the south where most people live. This loss impacts both nature and the well-being of Canadians. We have nature in our cities and homes. It may not be the same nature that was there hundreds of years ago, but it can provide important habitat. There are hundreds of species that will share our space, if we provide room for them. This year, create or expand a small area of wild on your property and enjoy your nature neighbours.1 SPRING 2017 5