Explore nature in a bioblitz

Wintergreen bioblitz banner

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last December we participated in the annual Christmas bird count, North America’s longest running citizen scientist project. We recorded all our sightings and reported it to the National Audobon society, which uses the data to study trends.

The Christmas bird count is one example of a bioblitz—an intense period of biological surveying that records all living species in a designated area.

Next weekend, Wintergreen Studios near Westport is hosting its fourth annual Land Art BioBlitz for five days, from May 30th to June 3rd. All five days are free, and they invite you to come and explore their 200-acre property and learn more about sustainability, and the biodiversity of our region. The idea is to bring together scientists, naturalists, and the general public to track and learn about wildlife identification and explore the outdoors.

You can drop in any time—no registration is necessary and the events are geared to all ages. Over the course of the five days, there are workshops, guided hikes, music jam sessions featuring sounds of nature, art installations and forest therapy walks. Matt Ellerbeck, the snake man will be there and they’re even holding a square dancing session/astronomy lesson under the stars.

If you’ve never been to Wintergreen Studios, it’s a marvel and a treat. The main lodge is straw-bale construction. There’s a small cut-out in one of the walls so you can see the thickness of the bale. We’ve mainly attended dinner concerts there and have always had a wonderful time.

This week’s #HappyAct is to get back to nature this spring and learn something new about sustainability and the biodiversity of your region.

More happyacts on biodiversity

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Plant a tree and help Forests Canada reach their Canada 150 goal

Family planting trees
Planting trees at Lemoine’s Point in 2013

Friday was Arbor Day. Clare and I celebrated Arbor Day selling seedlings at her school. This is the fourth year we’ve held this popular fundraiser and once again I was surprised and touched by the interest and support in our little community — we sold out of our 1,500 seedlings.

After travelling so much in the past month, and seeing from the skies and road how much of our land is being developed and the shrinking tracts of forests, I feel even more passionate about what we’re doing and the need to plant for the future.

Some times I think we’ve forgotten the important benefits of trees. Did you know,

  • One large tree can supply a day’s supply of oxygen for four people?
  • Trees clean our air, absorbing carbon dioxide and other harmful chemicals and releasing oxygen
  • Trees cool our planet by providing shade and through the evaporation of water from their leaves. The cooling effect of one large tree is equivalent to 10 room size air conditioners operating 20 hours a day.
  • Trees create an ecosystem that provides habitat and foods for birds and animals
Clare selling seedlings for the school

The Ontario Government and Forests Ontario are inviting Canadians to celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday by taking part in the Green Leaf Challenge and plant three million trees in Ontario. The Ontario government has committed to planting 50 million trees by 2025 and is making it easy for landowners to participate by offering subsidies and tax savings. Add your trees to their online counter at greenleafchallenge.ca.

Here is how you can get involved and help.

  • May 6th is Community Planting Weekend sponsored by Forests Ontario. There are tree planting “bees” happening in York Region, Windsor, Niagara Falls and Cambridge. Here in Kingston, we’ll be planting trees with the Cataraqui Region Conservation Authority at Lemoine’s Point Conservation Area, starting at 9 a.m. at the north entrance off Bath Road at Coverdale. Bring boots, a shovel and gloves. All are welcome.
  • If you are a lot owner, learn more about the 50 million trees challenge and log any trees you plant on the greenleafchallenge.ca website
  • Register to become a Forests Ontario member. Receive Our Forest magazine (it’s also available online if you’re an Issuu subscriber).

This week’s #HappyAct is to plant a tree. Happy planting, everyone!

Get your hands dirty

IMG_1439I moved to the country about 20 years ago. I wasn’t sure whether I was going to like it, having lived in the suburbs most of my life. Much to my surprise, I fell in love with this area, its vastness, beauty, community spirit and the freedom we have to roam and explore. I feel like I can breathe here.

Country life isn’t for everyone, and this post is not meant to wax poetic on the joys of country living. But I do believe that in today’s urban culture, we have become separated from the land that sustains us physically, emotionally and spiritually.

We have moved from a society of hunters and gatherers, to producers and manufacturers, to knowledge workers who use screens and devices to do our work. What toll does this have on us as human beings? Have we lost basic skills of survival? Have we lost a respect for our land and its sustainability? Have we suffered spiritually or emotionally from not being firmly grounded with terra firma?

I don’t know the answers to these questions. All I know is when we drive back from Toronto and pass the final townhouse in Oshawa and see the open fields, I sigh a big sigh of relief and rejoice in the sights and smells of the land on my way home.

This week’s Happy Act is to get your hands dirty and plant something. Saturday, May 3 is Community Tree Planting Day in Ontario. I’ll be planting trees twice this week. My kids’ public school is having a work bee to build a new garden as part of the school’s Eco Schools initiative (a big shout out to Union Gas for donating $1,000 and volunteers to help with this project). On Saturday, my entire family will be at Lemoine’s Point Conservation Area planting trees for the Cataraqui Conservation Area. If you go to the Trees Ontario website, you can find out where you can plant trees in your community this Saturday.

NOTE: Apologies for the late post this week for you Sunday morning regulars. Our home internet was down for the last five days–country living!

Here’s some pictures from the tree planting: Volunteers from Union Gas with a young helper, and my family at Lemoine’s Point in Kingston.

Union gas volunteers planting trees

 

 

Swinton family planting trees