Thursday, 30 August 2012

Martha Webber on the Destruction of the Beaver Pond Forest

Martha Webber, renowned Kanata/Ottawa botanist, naturalist and educator, wrote the following in response to the news of the final complete clear-cutting of the Beaver Pond Forest in the South March Highlands. It is posted here with her permission.

Is there no way to end the destruction? This old growth forest is not only a refuge for wildlife, First Nation artifacts, but unique in its location within an urban boundary. Ottawa's version of Algonquin park, with trails accessible by foot, bike or public transit in use year round by residents and guests to the city. The "lungs of the world", so called because of air purification, reflected in the health of our citizens. Even on the hottest days of summer, those who walk its trails benefit from clean, fragrant air and escape from constant city noise. Autistic children respond well to this, all of us benefit. Such a walk in Japan is called "forest bathing" for stress reduction and health support. There is still sufficient forest standing to become a city park which would soon recover the cost as an ecotourism attraction.

There are already more new families in proliferating developments than there are schools and other supports available. No consideration is given to endangered plants and animals, even to flora and fauna in general. They have no rights when measured against development money and influence. So much money is available today for major city projects, if some could be postponed ? A forest must be a certain size and quality to support a viable wildlife food chain, and ours is being decimated.

There is so much money being spent in this city today, some of these targets could be postponed for a while. A layer of smog already overlies the city on hot days, without the ancient forest we will require some sort of filter to breathe, as in other major cities like Mexico City, or Toronto, and children and seniors will be especially at risk.

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