View topic - A Biodiversity Charter for Ontario

Canadian Canoe Routes

A Biodiversity Charter for Ontario
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Author:  Alan Greve [ December 5th, 2010, 10:29 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: A Biodiversity Charter for Ontario

Jeff, This particular conservation area is off the beaten path seldom used with a four car parking lot. The area and trees cut were in a heavy forested area well a way from any walking path. Those tree were in some cases two hundred meters from where anyone would be.
The same conservation authority logged another conservation area that is even less used. They told me it was for forest management. Bull crap it was for the $$$$$

Author:  idylwyld [ December 6th, 2010, 10:20 am ]
Post subject:  Re: A Biodiversity Charter for Ontario


It's great that you are involved and engaged in local environmental restoration efforts, and keeping your CA on it's toes. They need more active interest from local residents, and they also need to communicate better with area residents (this is their job … I firmly believe). But I've seen these kind of things before, management decisions that are not perfect (particularly if they are chronically underfunded), and decisions that are communicated very poorly to the public. I'm not sure the snake issue is all that relevant (all management decisions, including leaving the forest alone, are going to have direct consequence on animal populations). Knowing this, and understanding these impacts, and controlling for favorable and unfavorable outcomes is all you can really do. You can't NOT have an impact. In my geese example, few geese were harmed, but you would think the sky was falling down listening to local residents. The park managers made some serious mistakes in this example, leaving some local stakeholders out of management decisions and not talking more effectively with people who use the park daily, have a great attachment to the place, and do not want to have their daily interaction with the park change.

They shouldn't be planting monoculture crops of invasives in a CA .. I just don't get this (maybe they have a reason, maybe you need to go to the press and let other residents know how their local lands are being missmanaged). But the oak savanna forest that is a major component of this park IS a fire dependent ecosystem, one of the best cases we have for this, and it needs to be burned on a regular basis. Burning removes litter from the forest floor (allowing plants to grow faster and seeds of native species to reach the soil), helps perpetuate fire-dependent species, controls for harmful insects and diseases, improves wildlife habitat, enhances appearance and scenic values of the oak savanna, top-kills woody vegetation, shrubs, brambles, and small trees, consumes downed brush and branches (reducing future fuel hazard), and returns nutrients from litter to the soil.

There's actually a pretty good case that the oak savanna forest as we know it today is not a natural product at all, but an aboriginal product in North America from thousands of years of active fire management. I think it may be a misnomer to think of the wild lands of North America as somehow undeveloped and free of the impact of humans. Native people regularly burned the forest (in particular the fire dependent oak savanna) for many reasons: active promotion of different game species, crop management (clearing brush to facilitate collection of acorns, or enhance natural reproduction for other attractive species such as tarweed, greens, and grass seed collection in some areas), use of fire surrounds for insect collection, pest management (control for black flies, ticks, and mosquitos), improve growth and yields of feed for grazing animals, fireproofing areas around settlements, felling trees, clearing riparian areas, facilitating trails and travel, etc. I say this because it is a distinct cultural legacy of the Carolinian, and a very interesting one at that, but also because the view point of "letting nature do it's own thing" is in fact a fairly unique one in human history (and probably has much of it's roots in 70s and 80s environmental movement, more than anything else).

One of my favorite examples of this comes from an episode of Ken Burns on the national parks. In episode 5, he talks about the return of Maria Lebrado to Yosemite National Park, the last surviving member of the Ahwahneechees who previously lived in the valley. She looked around and said "we managed the park better in our day, it's so brushy now, you can't get anywhere." There's little feed and forage for important game in the valley, she held. She complained most bitterly about wildlife and plant conditions in the park, and management practices focused on "scenic" elements and letting the park return to bush because of "laziness" (in her view) or just "disinterest."

I hear what you are saying in this thread, but I don't think letting nature take its course is a very useful approach (particularly if promoting the growth and benefits to native species is your goal). A new equilibrium will always be reached, this is a sure thing, but it will unlikely include the wrong mix you are seeking to establish … and a higher representation of invasives (since these do very well when not held in check by local conditions in their native ecosystems). And looking at "nature" on a broader scale in N. America through time, I think we have always lived in environments that were the products of some degree of active "management" … if just for travel, livelihood, or managing land for settlement characteristics. The oak savanna, as we know it today, wouldn't exist without this long history of care, attention, and management (if not for specific ecosystem outcomes, then indirectly for more utilitarian aims of livelihood, travel, and human comfort). I find the modern park (as natural sanctuary) an anomaly in our human and social history. What has changed is the justification for management (and taking a hands off approach is one possible decision among many … but certainly not without very specific direct and indirect results and outcomes).

I guess the short form of what I am saying: no management is a management decision of a specific kind, and it may result in outcomes that are not favorable for the environment, native species, neighbors of parks (looking to restore native species on their own properties), and other folks who derive enjoyment, greater scientific understanding, or maybe even nutrition (plant or berry gathering, or hunting) from these vital lands and unique spaces.

I know HOOP has strong views on ecosystems that are fire dependent (and how active management, and clear-cutting for different industries, can best simulate and model these natural processes). We're just learning now (or over last 50 years) how vital fire has been to much of our local ecosystems in N. America. Whether humans have contributed to this all along, or if it is purely a natural process, is still a matter of some debate. But we're learning more and more about this each day, and I think it's a pretty compelling and vital area of new research and is changing how many people view and understand our diverse environmental legacies (and different land stewardship opportunities) in N. America.

Author:  Alan Greve [ December 6th, 2010, 2:12 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: A Biodiversity Charter for Ontario


There are many points that I agree with you and I believe controlled burns have their place.
But when I look at this particular situation and compare outside the Park boundary to inside both the Dunne's and further away from the shore line inside the Savanna, Flora species are comparable. No fires have taken place outside the boundaries wild or other wise for fifty years maybe even more.
But what I can't and will not except due to the fact that two reptile species are next to extinct within this Province that we should act such measures that may reduce their numbers further. If these species were not confined to such small pockets and numbers I would be ok with a controlled burn.

An example of how things adapt, ( trust me I'm not in-favor of this and there most certainly was negative effects to the Eco system by their introduction. ) Both the introduction of the Common or English Sparrow and the Starling. They are here to stay like it or not but the Eco system did adapt.....good bad or other wise.

Author:  idylwyld [ December 6th, 2010, 4:53 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: A Biodiversity Charter for Ontario

Yes … that sounds like a great argument to make. If you are going to burn, you need to also have an active breeding and restocking program to counter the effects of this (especially when endangered species are impacted in such a dramatic way).

And I agree on the wildly successful "starling". The environment may have recovered and found a new equilibrium, but they still need a public relations make-over (in my opinion). When I see them, I still largely view them as a mean spirited and ruthless invader … kicking out other cavity nesters during the breeding season (and often to the detriment of native woodpeckers, martins, bluebirds, more). But what can we do to reverse it, very little it seems.

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