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Good news for monarchs

Good news for monarchs

When word spread this spring about the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food’s proposed delisting of milkweed from the Schedule of Noxious Weeds, Ontario Nature supporters sent supportive comments through the Environmental Registry, as did many other nature enthusiasts and scientists. Thankfully, the ministry listened and officially removed milkweed from the noxious weed list in […]

Carbon credit swap

Carbon credit swap

by Allan Britnell Most of us have known for years that trees are good for the environment, particularly because of their ability to sequester greenhouse gases spewed by cars and the other conveniences of our lives. Yet, until recently, no one knew precisely just how much carbon forests could store. But a detailed analysis published […]

Bred in the bone

Bred in the bone

Drawing from his Ugandan heritage, Yuga Juma Onziga, founder of the Environmental Centre for New Canadians, has created a global village in the heart of a big city By Allan Britnell Located on the ground floor of a decidedly unfashionable city works department building in Toronto’s downtown Fashion District, the Environmental Centre for New Canadians […]

Backyard harvest

Backyard harvest

Fresh, tasty produce. Green space. Conserving the soil, water and air. There are lots of great reasons why city farming has become so popular. And you can’t beat the travel time by Allan Britnell On a sweltering Monday morning in late May — by 10 a.m., the thermostat is reading 30ºC — I visit the […]

A very surprising discovery

A very surprising discovery

By Allan Britnell Flamborough resident Paul D. Smith has turned the beach-vacation hobby of collecting interesting shells into an innovative biodiversity study. Each year since 2007, he has searched for freshwater mussel shells along the muddy shoreline of Cootes Paradise, an 800-hectare wetland sanctuary managed by the Royal Botanical Gardens (RBG), at the western end […]

The way of the dodo

The way of the dodo

Wednesday, December 8, 2010 By Allan Britnell It was fitting that, late in 2010—a 12-month period that the United Nations had dubbed the International Year of Biodiversity—dignitaries gathered in Nagoya, Japan for the 10th meeting of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). Unveiled at the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, the CBD’s stated goal […]

A royal rebound

A royal rebound

By Allan Britnell With its distinctive black, orange and white-speckled patterning, the monarch (Danaus plexippus) is probably the best known of all North American butterflies. It is also one of the continent’s most well travelled insects, migrating more than 3,000 kilometres from its summer retreats as far east as Newfoundland to its overwintering grounds in […]

Living fences

Living fences

By Allan Britnell That good fences make good neighbours is a commonly held truism, but fences can also be good for the environment, particularly when they are made from trees. In southwestern Ontario, the County of Wellington has initiated a number of innovative programs that incorporate so-called living fences to do everything from boosting crop […]

Sowing a green legacy

Sowing a green legacy

Friday, September 24, 2010 By Allan Britnell In early October (2010), dignitaries gathered at the Wellington County Museum and Archives [www.wcm.on.ca] in Fergus, Ont. for a ceremonial tree planting. The sugar maple sapling sown that day marked a very auspicious milestone: It was the one-millionth tree to be planted under the County of Wellington’s award-winning Green […]

Bigger is better

Bigger is better

Wednesday, May 12, 2010 By Allan Britnell It seems we can add smaller birds to the growing list of impacts climate change is already having on the planet’s flora, fauna and habitats. A joint Swiss–U.S. study of nearly half-a-million birds, from more than 100 species, has found that birds are becoming lighter and developing smaller […]

Giving Invasives the Cold Shoulder

Giving Invasives the Cold Shoulder

Thursday, February 25, 2010 Thursday, February 25, 2010 Posted By Allan Britnell Barely six months after the official surrender of Japanese forces ended the Second World War, Winston Churchill gave a speech in March 1946 at Westminster College in Missouri where he famously stated that, “an iron curtain has descended across the Continent,” coining a term used ever since […]

Bird versus plane

Bird versus plane

Tuesday January 26, 2010 Posted by Allan Britnell There’s no denying the heroic actions of U.S. Airways pilot Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger when he safely landed his powerless plane in the Hudson River a year ago [www.vanityfair.com/style/features/2009/06/us_airways200906], saving the lives of all 155 passengers and crew.

The view from up here

The view from up here

by Allan Britnell For three decades aerial photographer Lou Wise has been snapping his unique photographs of southern Ontario’s manipulated, overrun and sometimes buried waterways. Lou Wise first earned his pilot’s wings in the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) during the Second World War, and since that time has logged some 3,000 hours of flying […]

Year of Biodiversity

Year of Biodiversity

Tuesday November 3, 2009 Posted by Allan Britnell While Arthur C. Clarke may have predicted that 2010 will be “the year we make contact,” the United Nations is asking us to take a more inward looking approach, declaring the coming 12 months to be the International Year of Biodiversity.

Leaping to conclusions

Leaping to conclusions

Monday October 19, 2009 Posted by Allan Britnell Earlier this summer you may have read headlines like this one from the BBC proclaiming, “Legless Frogs Mystery Solved.” Good news, you likely thought, someone’s pinpointed the cause of one of the more disturbing ecological oddities of recent decades.

Vulture Culture

Vulture Culture

by Dave Dick, BirdLife International Thursday September 10, 2009 Posted by Allan Britnell While the birth announcement for a slender-billed vulture (Gyps tenuirostris) is unlikely to elicit the fawning “oohs” and “aahs” you’d typically expect for a baby animal, the news was greeted with a huge sigh of relief in south Asia.

Hold the salt

Hold the salt

by Allan Britnell We all know that we should reduce the amount of salt in our diet. But we also need to limit the amount that gets into the environment. Unfortunately, Canadian winters lead to more than five million tonnes of rock salt being dumped on roads, sidewalks and parking lots each year. And while […]

Bring back the wolf

Bring back the wolf

Monday August 10, 2009 Posted by: Allan Britnell The lush green that carpets the Scottish Highlands has been looking a little threadbare in recent years, and an unchecked population of red deer (kissing cousins to North American elk) is to blame. Yet the solution being proposed by biologists is a controversial one: reintroducing wolves to […]

Cool science

Cool science

by Allan Britnell A typical student’s science fair project might analyze local sources of acid rain or show how to grow crystals. Big thinker Daniel Burd, a grade 11 student at Waterloo Collegiate Institute, decided to tackle, in one fell swoop, a common source of household clutter and a growing global ecological problem: plastic bags.

Seeds of Hope

Seeds of Hope

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by Allan Britnell

Seed bank: a secure repository for storing seeds. But a seed bank is so much more than this. These sorts of repositories are critical to the conservation and preservation of the genetic diversity of plant life. While humans have been collecting and preserving treasured seeds for millennia, only recently have efforts have been made to archive the world’s flora to safeguard stocks from possible extirpation due to disease, drought and other natural disasters.