Reconstructing nature in our communities

“The surface of the Earth itself is an immense loom upon which the sun weaves the fabric of existence” - Wade Davis

As spring looms, we will see proliferation of plant life emerging from the ground and budding overhead. As photons charge photosynthesis, there are detrimental changes being thrust upon the ecological fabric in the form of human progress. Progress in discordance with ecology is having devastating effects on natural functioning. Effects on water, land and air are being observed, quicker than these systems can catch up. Declines in species, like the mighty salmon or the busy honey bee, ocean acidification, deforestation, polluted lakes, and the list goes on. These effects can be felt from global warming, over fishing, mining, stream alterations, industrial effluents, urbanization and countless others.

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Most of us that read about or witness these effects are disheartened. We ask ourselves: what can we do? When we see the politicizing of climate change or the changing of environmental laws to benefit special interests, we are beleaguered into thinking it is hopeless. When G.I. Gurdjieff said: “Only super-efforts count”, he meant with intention, steadfastness, and continuity, not in necessarily in size. Small changes can have lasting impacts. Many small changes can have many lasting impacts. As individuals, we can make lasting impacts on the health of the environment. Transform good thoughts into acts, these acts turn into habits and habits into character, creating super-efforts.  

An act as simple as planting native trees and shrubs can bolster ecological integrity immensely, such as helping declining insect pollinator populations, stream health, aiding in climate change adaptation, creating shade, promoting psychological well being, filtering pollutants, combating erosion, and adding to the plant community. Depending on individual concerns and values, planting can be focused in many ways, helping to counteract negative environmental trends.

Bee population decline has made major headlines over the last decade and a half. Pollinators, bees specifically, are important for integrity of wildflower communities (Aguilar et al 2006) and food crops (Klein et al 2006). This threatens biodiversity, which is a huge ecological threat, but also through an anthropogenic lens, threatens food security. However you frame it, bees are important for a healthy ecosystem and crucial for human existence. Bees are fighting an uphill battle, with stresses ranging from varroa mites (Le Conta et al 2010), climate change, pesticide toxicity, and pathogens (vanEngelsdorp et al 2009) bee colonies are not boding well.

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Making bee-friendly garden plots is an easy way to support honey-bee populations and other pollinators. Planting native trees and shrubs that bloom at different times can help pollinators. The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation has a list of forbs, shrubs and trees for Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and the NE States with different bloom times. Planting trees, shrubs and flowers with different blooming periods will benefit pollinators throughout the growing season are inventoried in the link below:   

https://xerces.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/2017-051_NortheastPlantList_Dec2017_web-3page.pdf

See link below for guidelines for step-by-step instructions for establishing pollinator meadows from seed:

https://xerces.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/EstablishingPollinatorMeadows.pdf

If you are a Saint Johner or Haligonian you can stop by Halifax Seed, or if you are an Eastern Canadian that online shops click on link below for Eastern Canadian wildflower mix with sheep’s fescue grass (to mitigate erosion):

https://halifaxseed.ca/products/product/eastern-canadian-mix-with-fescue

If your concerns lay with the waning Monarch numbers, you can plant milkweed in your gardens to provide a safe haven for this pollinating insect. Milkweed provides food for caterpillars and butterflies. The link below sells milkweed seeds by donation:  

https://www.monarchbutterflies.ca/home.html

Planting of native trees and shrubs can also benefit the health of streams and rivers. Planting along stream banks can filter pollutants, combat erosion, provide in-stream cover and shade for fish, and breeding and nursing areas for birds, insects, mammals, amphibians and reptiles. If your property has streams, creeks or brooks on it, you would be helping the ecology of the watershed immensely by planting native trees and shrubs along the stream side.

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Planting rain gardens in your yard can help manage risks from flooding. A rain garden is planted in low lying area, like a natural depression on your property. Rain gardens benefit can help prevent localized flooding, filter pollutants from storm water picking up contaminants, and create more varied habitat for wildlife. You want to choose plants that are good in moist conditions. Consult your local garden center for information on local plants that are tolerant in moist conditions. See link below for ideas on how to construct a rain garden:

https://www.familyhandyman.com/garden/how-to-build-a-rain-garden-in-your-yard/

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If you are interested in organizing a planting event contact us:  

http://www.acapsj.org/contact

If you are an army of one and want to volunteer with us, sign up here:

http://www.acapsj.org/volunteers

A few seeds planted in the right place can improve ecological conditions. Here at ACAP we planted 1,103 trees last year with help of volunteers. We, as citizens, can help reconstruct the natural world in our cities and neighbourhoods, by planting native wildflowers, shrubs, and trees.


“The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

 

References

Establishing Pollinator Meadows from Seed. https://xerces.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/EstablishingPollinatorMeadows.pdf

Pollinator Plants Northeast Region. https://xerces.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/2017-051_NortheastPlantList_Dec2017_web-3page.pdf

Aguilar R, Ashworth L, Galetto L, Aizen MA. 2006. Plant reproductive susceptibility to habitat fragmentation: review and synthesis through a meta-analysis. Ecology Letters. 9 (8): 968-980.

Gurdjieff GI. 1950. Beelzebub’s Tales to His Grandson.

Klein AM, Vaissiere BE, Cane JH, Steffan-Dewenter I, Cunningham SA, Kremen C, Tscharntke T. 2006. Importance of pollinators in changing landscapers for world crops. Proceedings of the Royal Society. 274 (1608): 303-313.

Le Conta Y, Ellis M, Ritter W. 2010. Varroa mites and honey bee health: Can Varroa explain part of the colony losses? Apidologie. 41 (3): 353-363.

Potts SG, Biesmeijer JC, Kremen C, Neumann P, Schweiger O, Kunin WE. 2010. Global pollinator declines: Trends, impacts and drivers. Trends in Ecology and Evolution. 25 (6): 345-353.

vanEngelsdorp D, Evans JD, Saegerman C, Mullin C, Haubruge E, Nguyen BK, Frazier J, Cox-Foster D, Chen Y, Underwood R, Tarpy DR, Pettis JS. 2009. Colony collapse disorder: A descriptive study. PLos ONE. 4 (8).

 

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