Conservation Practices on Peleee Island
From travelling differently to growing food differently, Islanders live differently. In an area of Ontario under intense human development pressure, Pelee Island has managed to retain large portions of its natural heritage. That more species have not been extirpated and that the island can claim high grades for conservation successes is attributable to a vibrant setting and a people whose habit of thought and way of life is different. The story line of contact between human society and wildlife on the island is one that demonstrates harmony uncommon in much of our country. The following are just a few of the conservation programs underway on Pelee Island.
Photo by Justin Tiessen
Meadowlark Organic Farm
Meadowlark Organic Farm is a program of the Pelee Island Heritage Centre, which fosters the on-going expansion of alternative and organic agriculture. We know that in the past conventional farming practices have reduced wildlife diversity in our countryside and that organic farming can reverse that trend to some degree. Meadowlark aims to support local healthy food production and bring more economic opportunity to the Island while supporting local wildlife. Perhaps in time we will see the return of species at risk like Fowler’s Toad and the once more common Eastern Meadowlark.
Pelee Island Bird Observatory
The Pelee Island Heritage Centre is a founding partner of the Pelee Island Bird Observatory (PIBO). The Pelee Island Bird Observatory was established in 2003 with a mandate to collect data on migratory birds, study and preserve Pelee’s unique nesting bird communities, serve as an education center, and encourage ecotourism on the island. PIBO’s core migration program is part of an international effort to monitor population trends of North American songbirds. Long-term migration studies provide valuable population indices for species that are difficult to survey by other means due to the inaccessibility of their breeding and wintering grounds, as well as many additional research opportunities. Government and conservation groups use this information locally and internationally to address a broad range of concerns about the population status of many familiar Canadian birds.
Native Tree Nursery
In 2007 and 2008, the Pelee Island Heritage Centre, in cooperation with Meadowlark Organic Farm, is establishing an on-island native tree nursery. This nursery is critical to future restoration efforts of Nature Conservancy of Canada properties, delivery of private land stewardship initiatives, and local development proposals. The native tree nursery could in the future help provide Red Mulberry, Dwarf Hackberry, Honey Locust, Kentucky Coffeetree, Hoptree and other native tree species for mainland recovery efforts.
As part of developing an overall vision to reduce vehicular traffic on the Island (identified as a key threat to the Island’s threatened snakes and other wildlife), developing a more comprehensive outdoor interpretation program along these trails, and linking existing and future conservation lands, the Pelee Island Heritage Centre is conducting an Eco-trail Study. This study has as its goal the provision of easy bicycle access to natural areas and other attractions, eliminating the need to bring a car to the Island. The same eco-trails are being designed to make good walking trails for hikers and birders, and to introduce visitors to the many faces of the Island’s natural features.
Click here for information about the proposed Eco Trail System and for a map of the proposed trails.
Invasive Species Control
In 2007 and 2008, the Nature Conservancy of Canada will be implementing Garlic Mustard control on NCC lands, as per NCC’s internal Garlic Mustard Control protocol. In recent years Garlic Mustard has been established as a dominant species in many of Pelee’s forested communities that are also ideal Species at Risk habitat. At the same time, NCC will establish baseline population monitoring of known species at risk on NCC lands.
Assistance for this project was provided by The Ministry of Natural Resources.