Beaver Pond Forest is a part of the South March Highlands, a 1,100 hectare wilderness area, just twenty minutes west of Parliament Hill. Living within this landscape of rugged beauty there are hundreds of bird and vegetation species. Heather Hamilton, President at the Canadian Biodiversity Institute, claims that “Given the lack of comprehensive studies, it is quite possible that the actual list within the South March Highlands is in the thousands of species.” According to the City of Ottawa’s own biological studies, the South March Highlands are in the most biodiverse area within the City. The area is known to be home to 10 distinct habitats and 675 species, including 19 species at risk and another 18 species identified as priorities, and presently considered as ‘Candidates’ for the species at risk level by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada. This region has already lost eleven species at risk in the South March Highlands due to development activities.
Unfortunately, Ontario’s 2007 Endangered Species Act will not protect the habitats of endangered species until 2013, and developers can apply for permission to remove individuals and destroy their habitat. Despite the fact that animal habitat will be lost along with destroying many of the species at risk, the city is building an extention to the nearby Terry Fox Drive highway through the South March Highlands, and private developers are building subdivisions. One of the developers, KNL Developments Ltd. – a company co-owned by Urbandale Corp. and Richcraft – owns much of the Beaver Pond Forest, which it purchased in 2002, and it plans to begin clear-cutting the trees by the end of January.
Many creatures need help as urban sprawl encroaches in on their habitats, sending some on the path to extinction unless we do something about it. Unfortunately, with the growing urban sprawl, animals are increasingly falling victim to habitat loss, dog attacks, and vehicle collisions in urban areas. Most native animals cannot adapt to ‘life in the suburbs’ – they cannot handle the extensive habitat loss and fragmentation – when areas of continuous habitat are reduced to a set of isolated smaller remnants – and the negative effects of cars, cats and dogs. It can be extremely hard for them to move through the urban environment between woodland areas.
On January 6, 2011, in a letter to the Premier of Ontario, and the Mayor for the City of Ottawa, Dr. William Commanada, OC, Algonquin Elder Founder, A Circle of All Nations writes “I am ninety-seven years old; in less than a month, my spirit will have been part of this land ninety nine years; that is a long, long time. I have witnessed much transformation here and across Mother Earth, and I see many, many shortcomings in our individual and collective relationship with the penultimate source of life, shortcomings that are costing us, future generations, animals and plant life more and more dearly each day. I believe Mother Earth herself must and will draw us back to sustainable relationships for and with all.”
Everyone should at least one time in their lives take a walk through a forest and listen to the songs of birds, and observe some of the many creatures that abound in these forests. It is only by being close to these animals that you realize how special and amazing they are. All forests are very spiritual and magical places, and the Beaver Pond Forest is no exception. By visiting this pristine area you really start to realize how connected we all are. We are all children of ‘Mother Earth’ and part of a global eco-community, irrespective of our individual colour, creed, culture, or species.
This is not a time to be resting on our laurels when it comes to conserving wildlife in this area. The Beaver Pond Forest is a major growth spot of Ottawa and the threat of development will eat into a lot its animal habitat. People can individually make a difference. Even one person can have quite an impact. We can raise our voices in favour of the Beaver Pond Forest being saved. If we do not try to save our fellow creatures, we not only lose wildlife, but also part of our humanity as caretakers of this earth. Attached to this article is a Stewardship Plan that needs your signature if you want to help save these creatures and their habitat.
At this moment, Daniel Bernard, Amicwabe, an Algonquin presently residing in Toronto, is keeping a ‘Sacred Fire’ lit for the trees and wildlife untill Sunday, January 23. Maybe if we all pray to ‘Mother Earth’ and show our love for this forest and her creatures, she will save it from harm.
If perchance our voices are not heard by the government and the developers, we can only hope that there will be enough time to remove as many animals as possible and relocate them to safer ground before the bulldozers destroy everything and everyone in their range. Please call or Email the following list of people today, and ask for more time to help save these helpless creatures who so desperately need our voices to be heard.
Jim Watson, Mayor of Ottawa, [email protected]
Dalton McGuinty, Premier of Ontario and MPP for Ottawa, [email protected]
Michael Chan, Ontario Minister of Culture, [email protected]
Peter Evans, Executive Assistant to the Deputy Minister for Culture, [email protected]
Chris Bentley, Ontario Minister of Aboriginal Affairs, [email protected]
Gordon O’Connor, Federal Cabinet Minister and MP for Kanata, [email protected]
Norm Sterling, MPP for Kanata, [email protected]
You can sign the Stewardship Plan on-line here: