This week until Aug 30 work with the Nature Conservancy of Canada NCC as a conservation volunteer!
Contribute to community science in your own afforestation area!
Grab your smartphone, tablet or camera and contribute to online community science by searching for plants, animals and insects in your backyard or local green space. Track your observations using iNaturalist to help contribute to conservation!
Head outdoors and take photos of all the different species you can spot.
Upload your images to the app or online, use their identifying software to help identify what you see, and add your submission to the global network of species observations.
Participation in this event requires that you observe the direction of provincial health authorities. Stay 2 meters away from others, wear a face covering while in public spaces and wash your hands frequently.
“The future of the planet concerns all of us, and all of us should do what we can to protect it. ” Wangari Maathai.
“The science of forestry arose from the recognition of a universal need. It embodies the spirit of service to mankind in attempting to provide a means of supplying forever a necessity of life and, in addition, ministering to man’s aesthetic tastes and recreational interests. Besides, the spiritual side of human nature needs the refreshing inspiration which comes from trees and woodlands. If a nations saves its trees, the trees will save the nation. And nations as well as tribes may be brought together in this great movement, based on the ideal of beautifying the world by the cultivation of one of God’s loveliest creatures – the tree.” ~ Richard St. Barbe Baker.
The Eco-Quests work by downloading the i-Naturalist app onto your smart phone. Come out to the afforestation area individually or as a household. Use the app to take a photograph of something you see in nature. The i-Naturalist app works as your ‘field guide’ and will provide a suggestion on identification.
Also, looking and watching for various items in nature is like a “Where’s Waldo” puzzle activity. They are fun for the whole family. People can meet online and work together via their computer, and yet be out in public with social distancing. Students can increase their science awareness of nature. Rare and uncommon habitats, plants and animals can be discovered. These Eco-quests are a great way to connect with the environment and appreciate the biodiversity which exists. Eco-quests are challenging, and encouraging to everyone to appreciate the greenspace which may be taken for granted. Eco-quests are a means to become intrigued with the beauty and wonder of the natural world around us.
With an increased footprint, are there any locales or conservation strategies needed? Are there any species which need protection? Are there any reptiles (lizards and snakes), amphibians (frogs), lichen, fungi (mushrooms) spiders, fish, mollusks (snails), mosses, mammals birds, or plants in the afforestation areas?
After you are finished comment on the following statements;
I know more plant species than bird species. Yes. No. Not applicable.
I listed only live species which I saw or heard. Yes. No. Not applicable.
I looked for new species which I never saw before. Yes. No. Not applicable.
I listed only those species for which I was sure of the name. Yes. No. Not applicable.
I focused on only the woodlands species, and not the wetlands or grasslands. Yes. No. Not applicable.
I found out the name of a new plant which I had not noticed before. Yes. No. Not applicable.
This virtual Eco-Quest is a great way for you to connect with your sports group, physical, mental and spiritual health organisation. Let your group know about this activity, and everyone can go out at the time most convenient to them. Then online you can discuss with them how they made out during their time in the afforestation area. You can compare notes, and see who found the most birds, and who found the most plants.
Getting involved in the Genereux Park Eco-Quest and the Baker Area Eco-Quest are an amazing way to spend some time outdoors. Doing an activity outdoors alleviates anxiety, mental health issues, depression, and worries about the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s a win-win situation! It’s a great way to “see” what is in nature, increase your knowledge of the world around you, and inspire you to learn more!
Stimulate learning, relaxation, fun and enhance your learning ability. Only go out on your individual Eco-Quest with those from your household. Please keep social distance from anyone outside your own household.
Not only does your participation in the Eco-Quest make a huge difference in the results, but it is great fun, and enhances a beautiful walk through the forest, the grasslands or along the wetlands. It is rewarding connecting with scientists and other individuals. It is wonderful to interact with the local community, and it results in a relaxing and rewarding day interacting, observing nature, and delving into the number of birds, and wildlife habitats. You don’t even realize you are exercising until you are done, and look at how many steps you took. It is a means to great self-care, and a wonderful way to take care of your physical, mental and spiritual well-being.
Rather than connecting with the stress and anxiety of COVID-19 for this moment in time, take a holiday in nature, and immerse yourself in beauty.
The wetlands at Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area are shared with Chappell Marsh Conservation Area. The water body is in the West Swale and is called Chappell Marsh. On eBird there is the Chappell Marsh “Hot Spot” where birders record birds which are spotted on either side of Cedar Villa Road (Township Road 362A)
There are also folks recording on iNaturalist the biodiversity and birds which are found at Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area and George Genereux Urban Regional Park. All you have to do is download the smart phone app on your phone. Go out, and use the app to take pictures, and it will be your field guide to help in the identification! Take part in the iNaturalist Project: “The Social Distancing BioBlitz of 2020! Mar 17, 2020 – May 31, 2020”, or the project “Phenology Test”, or perhaps the “Observations from Isolation” project.
What else are you going to do during this era of social isolation? Come on out and have some fun!
“I think the most important quality in a birdwatcher is a willingness to stand quietly and see what comes. Our everyday lives obscure a truth about existence – that at the heart of everything there lies a stillness and a light.”
― Lynn Thomson
Creative expression, whether that means writing, dancing, bird-watching, or cooking, can give a person almost everything that he or she has been searching for: enlivenment, peace, meaning, and the incalculable wealth of time spent quietly in beauty. Anne Lamott
“If you truly love nature, you will find beauty everywhere.” — Vincent Van Gogh
If it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, we have at least to consider the possibility that we have a small aquatic bird of the family anatidae on our hands. Douglas Adams
Muskrat (Ondatra zibethicus), wetlands mammal enjoys the emergent vegetation around Chappell Marsh such as cattails
Autumn picture of the Saskatoon Afforestation Areas supported by the non profit group Friends of the Saskatoon Afforestation Areas Inc. Please join now, like, support, share.
Day to day environmental learning, tidbits of information posted every day during Earth Month. Unfortunately with great thought it is wise to reduce suffering, so our planned spring outdoor gatherings have been cancelled to respect the COVID-19 protocols so as to not put people at risk in group gatherings – postponed are the bio-blitzes, scavenger hunts, tours, and Clean Green Community Scene volunteer cleanup. We are adding to our website daily online activities for the month of April which involve interaction, education and awareness about Earth Month with a focus on the Earth Month Theme Climate Change.
“St. Barbe’s unique capacity to pass on his enthusiasm to others. . . Many foresters all over the world found their vocations as a result of hearing ‘The Man of the Trees’ speak. I certainly did, but his impact has been much wider than that. Through his global lecture tours, St. Barbe has made millions of people aware of the importance of trees and forests to our planet.” Allan Grainger
“The science of forestry arose from the recognition of a universal need. It embodies the spirit of service to mankind in attempting to provide a means of supplying forever a necessity of life and, in addition, ministering to man’s aesthetic tastes and recreational interests. Besides, the spiritual side of human nature needs the refreshing inspiration which comes from trees and woodlands. If a nation saves its trees, the trees will save the nation. And nations as well as tribes may be brought together in this great movement, based on the ideal of beautifying the world by the cultivation of one of God’s loveliest creatures – the tree.” ~ Richard St. Barbe Baker.
“I believed that God has lent us the Earth. It belongs as much to those who come after us as to us, and it ill behooves us by anything we do or neglect, to deprive them of benefits which are in our power to bequeath.” Richard St. Barbe Baker
Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area and West Swale Wetlands in the fog
Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area and West Swale Wetlands , Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
The trees and vegetation, which cover the land surface of the Earth and delight the eye, are performing vital tasks incumbent upon the vegetable world in nature. Its presence is essential to earth as an organism. It is the first condition of all life; it it the ‘skin’ of the earth, for without it there can be no water, and therefore, no life.~Richard St. Barbe Baker
On this blue planet, there is water, a lot of water. According to the U.S. Department of the Interior | U.S. Geological Survey the Earth’s surface is covered with around 71 percent of water, and of this huge vast body of water 96.5 percent of the water on earth is in the oceans. So these leaves 3.5 percent as fresh water as streams, rivers, lakes, and groundwater. Did you know that when considering “total freshwater, over 68 percent is locked up in ice and glaciers. Another 30 percent of freshwater is in the ground.source”
“When the well is dry, we learn the worth of water.” ~ Benjamin Franklin
What does this mean when it comes to the afforestation areas of Saskatoon? Botanists consider the entirety of the lands designated as afforestation areas as wetlands. Of the wetlands, only a small portion are class IV permanent wetlands which may also be termed the north end of Chappell Marsh. The remaining land mass of the afforestation areas are, well, forest to the average visitor to this amazing area of Saskatoon.
“Water is the most critical resource issue of our lifetime and our children’s lifetime.The health of our waters is the principal measure of how we live on the land.” ~ Luna Leopold
The Chappell Marsh wetlands of the West Swale are teeming with ducks and waterfowl. As one of the only sites in Saskatchewan to view the Ruddy Duck, it possesses the capacity to provide foraging, and breeding grounds for many other species, Blue heron, Black crowned Night Heron, Pelicans.
“We forget that the water cycle and the life cycle are one.” ~ Jacques Cousteau
What will happen with Saskatoon’s growing population? The West Swale is a low lying area with its confluence at the South Saskatchewan River. The trajectory of the West Swale connects the North Saskatchewan River through Rice Lake, Grandora through to Saskatoon. Where the intermittent streams on the surface flow towards the South Saskatchewan River, the bedrock aquifer – the groundwater flows towards the North Saskatchewan River, making the West Swale vitally important to the water hydrology of Saskatchewan, and all communities down stream.
“Anything else you’re interested in is not going to happen if you can’t breathe the air and drink the water. Don’t sit this one out. Do something. You are by accident of fate alive at an absolutely critical moment in the history of our planet.” ~ Carl Sagan
It is quite intriguing to watch the city’s long-range plans. When new neighbourhoods are being planned and developed for Saskatoon’s Growth Plan to Half a Million what percentage of the wetlands are being conserved by developers to sustain water quality for the booming city. How does housing density and formulas for neighbourhood population conserve and interact with area previously designated as wetlands? If a wetlands is not in a preservation or conservation zone, what percentage of wetlands is deemed prudent to maintain? If approximately 570 acres of land are set aside for development of a neighbourhood to be home to around and about 10,000 residents, what happens if this land happens to have wetlands in it? Have any cities set precedents in regards to percentage of wetlands conservation areas as urban centres expand outwards?
“In 1981,it was estimated that 78 per cent of the pre-settlement wetlands in Calgary had been lost. Today, the estimate is closer to 90 per cent. Urban development
is now extending into areas of significant wetland complexes, some of which are considered provincially and nationally significant to breeding waterfowl.”Source
The Calgary wetland conservation policy ensures that there is “No Net Loss” of Calgary Wetlands by promoting their conservation and/or mitigation within areas of future urban development and within transportation and utility corridors.”
“The City will dedicate permanent, semi-permanent, and seasonal wetlands (i.e., Class III, IV, and V Wetlands in the Stewart and Kantrud system) and all peatlands as Environmental Reserve upon subdivision of land. (The Way We Green 3.5.2)” In addition to this, Edmonton sets aside municipal reserves, environmental reserves and public lands of water beds and shores.Source
Is it more prudent to infill the wetlands and construct a housing neighbourhood with the pre-requisite low, medium or high density population no matter what the geographical terrain? Is 23% of existing wetlands inventory maintained as constructed wetlands an acceptable environmental resource for urban growth in contemporary times?
The wetlands existing in the afforestation areas may be “preserved in perpetuity.” However, there are wetlands in the West Swale not in a preserved area for example west of Sk Highway 7 near the West compost depot. What has happened for example in the long range planning of the wetlands in regards to Saskatoon’s neighbourhoods ~ what percent of the wetlands inventory were conserved? What will happen to the expanses of West Swale wetlands water areas ~ these wetlands outside of preservation zones?
“Thousands have lived without love, not one without water.” ~ W.H. Auden
“In the setting of standards, agencies make political and technical/scientific decisions about how the water will be used. In the case of natural water bodies, they also make some reasonable estimate of pristine conditions. Natural water bodies will vary in response to environmental conditions. Environmental scientists work to understand how these systems function, which in turn helps to identify the sources and fates of contaminants. Environmental lawyers and policymakers work to define legislation with the intention that water is maintained at an appropriate quality for its identified use.Source” We need to conserve, and carve out a place for wetlands for future generations to ensure water quality.
Remember World water Day is celebrated on 22nd of March and Water Quality Month is August.
“Water, thou hast no taste, no color, no odor; canst not be defined, art relished while ever mysterious. Not necessary to life, but rather life itself, thou fillest us with a gratification that exceeds the delight of the senses.” ~ Antoine de Saint-Exupery
while knowledge about nature is vital; passion is the long-distance fuel for the struggle to save what is left of our natural heritage and ~ through an emerging green urbanism ~ to reconstitute lost land and water. Passion does not arrive on videotape or on a CD; passion is personal. Passion is lifted from the earth itself by the muddy hands of the young; it travels along grass-stained sleeves to the heart. If we are going to save environmentalism and the environment, we must also save an endangered indicator species: the child in nature. ~Richard Louv.
Please help protect / enhance /commemorate your afforestation areas, please contact the Friends of the Saskatoon Afforestation Areas Inc. (e-mail)
Support the afforestation areas with your donation or membership ($20.00/year). Please donate by paypal using the e-mail friendsafforestation AT gmail.com, or by using e-transfers Please and thank you! Your donation and membership is greatly appreciated. Members e-mail your contact information to be kept up to date!