Reconnecting with the Local NatureHood
by Adrian Larose
Nature Canada recently brought two locally focused projects to life in Canada's national capital region: one focused on saving the lives of area birds, the other on helping the Ottawa community reconnect with the local natural environment.
Geese on open water in Ottawa. Photo courtesy of Graham Perry.
The latter project is "NatureHood," a pun on neighbourhood (see www.naturehood.co for a map-based app, or Nature Canada at www.naturecanada.ca for the full website). Many urban dwellers are, well, not so very "in touch" with the local "NatureHood." To help, NatureHood aims to get people out into nature "right where they live," according to the Nature Canada website.
The program also includes the human side, by making clear that the buildings and even the people are part of the environment. Especially so in urban areas!
The NatureHood website explains local nature hotspots, links to info on walking trails and local flora and fauna, and connects to a network of other relevant local organizations. It offers visitors a comprehensive way to learn more from your nature hike or walk.
In Ottawa, the Ottawa River was a logical first NatureHood to target. Lac Deschnes, a lake-inside-the-river (or technically a "fluvial lake"), stretches along more than 40 kilometres of the Ottawa River on Ottawa's western end. (See www.naturecanada.ca/what-we-do/naturehood/lac-deschenes.) It is home to many birds and other types of wildlife. Nature Canada zoomed in on Lac Deschnes as a way to get the NatureHood program started.
Even the present writer, a longtime resident of Ottawa, was interested to learn that Lac Deschnes is a "globally significant important bird area," so designated by BirdLife International (www.birdlife.org) -- and hey, that's despite the fact I live right near the river and routinely walk along the shore of Lac Deschnes!
I have seen many birds during my walks near Britannia Beach. The local feathered friends vary greatly with the season's migrations. Just now as I write this (in mid-October), Canada geese seem especially numerous. They love the wide river, which has plenty of natural shoreline where they can forage.
Yet the story is not always so happy for birds who venture into urban areas. Another program that Nature Canada has helped bring to Ottawa, called FLAP (short for Fatal Light Awareness Program), aims to help save birds' lives.
According to FLAP Ottawa, more than 100 million birds die from colliding with buildings each year in North America alone. The group seeks to safeguard migratory birds in the urban environment through education, research, rescue and rehabilitation.
Besides raising awareness about bird-friendly designs, and working with Ottawa groups to get the message out to the authorities, FLAP Ottawa is also cataloguing the numbers, types and locations of birds that die from colliding with the area's buildings. FLAP Ottawa also collects the actual bodies.
If you find an injured or dead wild bird in your journeys, by phoning 613-216-8999 you can get prompt help. FLAP Ottawa is also looking for volunteers to patrol looking for injured or dead birds; to help deliver found birds to the Wild Bird Care Centre (www.wildbirdcarecentre.org); and to help with special events. The group also has tips on how you can help on its website.
Adrian Larose writes on environmental and social justice issues.
The PERC thanks the above organizations for their support.
Thank you to Sustainable Eastern Ontario, the Community Foundation of Ottawa, and the Ontario Trillium Foundation for sponsoring the Winter 2015-2016 edition of the PEN.