By: Milli Simonics- The Brock Press
What do biodiversity and sustainability mean to you? In the Niagara Region these are important elements to the vast ecosystem that is right at our door steps. The Niagara Region is home to over 2,200 species of plants and animals, which is more than any other region in Canada. To many Niagara residents, the biodiversity in the ecosystem surrounding us is worth preserving and protecting.
On March 5, community members were invited to join a discussion on the region’s biodiversity at a Café culture talk, “Sustainability in Our Region: Why is Biodiversity Important”. At the session people were invited to participate in discussion with a panel of representatives with expertise in biodiversity and sustainability. Amongst the panellists was Deanna Lindblad, a restoration project lead with Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority. In her work, Lindblad focuses on the preservation and protection of Niagara’s ecosystems. In a recent project, Lindblad and the NPCA assessed the state of Niagara’s natural areas and compared it to that of a healthy ecosystem, finding that the Niagara region has an 18 per cent ecosystem coverage compared to the 30 per cent target. Lindblad also added that the problem is “not just presence absence of species but health of those species.” Lindblad’s work and discussion of the state of the Niagara Region’s ecosystem highlight the importance of human interaction in the preservation and protection of our ecosystems. Another presenter at the session, Brock university graduate student Shawn Geniole, expressed the importance of education when it comes to Niagara’s ecosystems, “We don’t realize how biodiverse this region is,” adding that to Niagara resident’s, our ecosystems “might just seem like a forest rather than a home to reptiles.” Educating Niagara residents about the surrounding ecosystems could help with its preservation and restoration; if people are knowledgeable about the environment, they will be more inclined to take care of it. A bigger challenge than education is inciting passion in residents to actually take part in preservation and restoration, “It’s not just about education, but about finding incentives to get people excited,” said Lindblad. Getting people to take interest in the environment is a tough challenge, but getting involved is easier than it may seem; the simplest actions people can do to take part include abstaining from littering and even picking up litter. The biggest problem with inciting passion in Niagara’s biodiversity is the disconnect between nature and society. Most people prefer to take the bus down Glenridge hill than take the path through the woods.
I ensure you, this is an entirely viable option in the warmer months and encourage everyone to explore this opportunity. In fact, I challenge everyone to take more interest in nature. The first step is simply stepping out into nature and enjoying what Niagara has to offer. To take it to another level, I encourage people to hike the trails of the Niagara escarpment which are an amazing destinations for those who like to be adventurous. Decew Falls, conveniently located right behind Brock yields plenty to explore. Everyone is also invited to take part by joining various nature clubs that Niagara region has to give. As frequent explorers of Niagara’s ecosystems, nature clubs are an extremely valuable resource for the NPCA’s research. Nature clubs provide valuable insight on the state of certain nature sites in Niagara as well as insight on the existence and health of species found there.
There are at leastthree clubs that everyone is welcome to join: The Niagara Falls Nature Club, The Bert Miller Nature Club, and the Peninsula Field Naturalists. Anyone wishing to take part and contribute their time to helping preserve and protect Niagara’s ecosystems is welcome to visit the NPCA’s website at npca.ca/corporate-services/volunteer-opportunities/. Brock’s café culture series on sustainability continues at the end of March with another café talk, taking place on March 29th at 10:30 a.m. at Mahtay café. This talk, “Energizing Discussion and Change for a Sustainable Future” will be about renewable and sustainable sources of energy and will feature two presentations as well as an open discussion. The event is free and everyone is welcome to join.