Our personal best: creating havens for wildlife

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What can we all do to create a haven for wildlife? Whether you want to encourage pollinators such as bees and birds to your balcony or garden, or keep a watercourse healthy, we can all act.

Native plants

The Pontiac’s “go-to” place to discover native plants is Beaux Arbres, located in Bristol. (beauxarbres.ca)

The website notes, “We specialize in plants native to the Ottawa Valley and garden-worthy wildflowers from eastern North America.”

At Beaux Arbres, owner Trish Murphy will not only explain interdependencies of wildlife to specific plants (think Monarch butterflies to Milkweed) but also will recommend appropriate plants for your needs. Regardless of your space, it’s likely that you can find a plant or plants which can work for you – and for wildlife.

When visiting, be prepared to explain what space you have, if you want to buy plants. Is it a sunny location or shady? Are you looking for a wetland, rockerie or meadow species? Does your garden space have sandy loam or heavy clay? The more details you can provide, the better able she’ll be to recommend a plant.

By purchasing a native plant grown from seeds that Murphy has collected and nurtured, herself, you are making a worthwhile contribution to ensuring native plants survive.

Backyard Habitat Programme

Canadian Wildlife Federation (CWF)

For years, the CWF has encouraged the public to create wildlife-friendly backyards.(https://bit.ly/3zVeJ7V). This website links to an application form where you can apply to certify your home, school, business, or community garden as a “Wildlife-friendlyHabitat.”

The website explains: “By joining Canadians who make their gardens wildlife-friendly, you help increase suitable habitat for local and migratory wildlife, some of which may be species at risk. As more land is developed
for human activities, each wildlife-friendly garden is a haven that can act as a stepping stone between larger areas of habitat, essential for many species’ survival.”

Avoid chemicals

Biologists inform us that insects are declining at alarming rates throughout the world and that insectivores (insect-eating animals), from birds to amphibians to mammals, are in similar population decline. (https://on.
natgeo.com/3yfkVGI)

Swallows join many other insect-eating birds which are in rapid decline. Bees are seriously threatened and because bees are such important pollinators, their decimation means the production of human (and other) food via organic farms through to vast agri-industrial cash-crop outfits is seriously affected.

Forget about Roundup. Avoid chemicals in all you do as much as you can. Don’t throw your pharmaceuticals down the toilet: instead, return unused pills to the pharmacist who will deal with them.

Household cleansers like bleach? There are so many natural, eco-friendly cleansers to use these days, avoid bleach inside your home and out. Tempted to use it in
your backyard pond? You know that ornamental ponds attract other wildlife such as frogs, which eat insects. Bleach burns frogs skin – a painful death – and although bleach will kill mosquito larvae, it’s an indiscriminate killer. Bleach will also kill the dragonfly larvae and all sorts of beneficial pond life. Not to mention that this poison may get into the outflow of your
pond and pollute natural watercourses and soil.

Incremental damage is difficult for wildlife. Chemicals get into the ground and surface water, into the soil where amounts build up, hurting the very elements upon which life depends.

Cottage beaches and waterfront?

Ottawa Riverkeeper to the rescue

The Ottawa River-keeper website offers a host of information to cottagers, outfitters, people who are guardians to waterfront properties. (ottawariverkeeper.ca)

Their website advocates for “A swimmable, drinkable, fishable Ottawa River watershed. For Everyone!”

Become an Ottawa River (or watershed) volunteer Riverkeeper – people who volunteer their time to observe and report on the health of the water. Learn how to protect the Nature you love.

Guardianship

What do you do to assist wildlife? We can all do something.

Contact Katharine Fletcher at fletcher.
katharine@gmail.com.