(Niagara At Large is pleased to to post the following article – one that contains messages that NAL believes everyone in this Province of Ontario needs to read and give careful thought to given what has been unfolding in recent months at Queen’s Park – from Caroline Schultz, Executive Director of Ontario Nature, one of the most dedicated and well-respected conservation organizations in North America.
This article is posted in Niagara At Large this June 26th, 2019 with the permission of Ontario Nature. It was originally published and is now featured in the current summer, 2019 issue of the organization’s award-winning magazine, ON Nature.)
By Caroline Schultz
“We are at a fork in the road for where we stand as a species.” -Al Gore
Earth is in the midst of the Anthropocene epoch. Human activities are changing the planet at an unprecedented rate in ways that affect every sector of society.
We have gone from being one of many thriving species to an increasingly dominant and destructive one. But our health, our moods and our survival remain inextricably linked to the health of our world.
Despite the broad awareness of the impact we are having on our environment, on May 2, the Government of Ontario tabled an omnibus bill that, under the guise of increasing housing supply, would eliminate crucial protections for the province’s most vulnerable species and their habitats.
Schedule 5 of the bill proposes, among other things, to remove the science-based assessment of species at risk currently in place, and to allow industries engaging in harmful activities to pay into a fund instead of completing on-the-ground work that would provide an overall benefit to the species being harmed.
At a time when the government should be doing more, it is proposing to do less. If enacted, these changes would spell disaster for Ontario’s at-risk plants and animals. One such animal is the eastern whip-poor-will.
In this issue (of On Nature magazine’s) cover story, “The sing-song of summer” (page 18), author Brian Banks examines the decline of this once-ubiquitous bird and identifies some of the possible causes. Gone are the days when cottagers and campers were kept awake by the nocturnal serenade of male whip-poor-wills laying claim to a territory or mate.
Gone, too, are the bug-splattered windshields that were once a staple of summer road trips (“Where are all the bugs?”, page 24).
It is easy to overlook the declines of less charismatic insect species—particularly given their collective reputation as a nuisance—but their decline could cause the loss of other wildlife, forever altering nature as we know it today. Surely we can find a place in our hearts for all creatures.
The consequences of the changes proposed in Schedule 5 would reach beyond species and their habitats. The healthcare community now recognizes what conservationists and others who spend significant time in nature have long known: a healthy environment contributes to a healthy citizenry.
With regular access to natural areas, people of all ages, abilities and backgrounds are better able to keep fit, reduce their stress and prevent illness. These benefits translate into long-term economic gains, as healthy nature lovers are less reliant on traditional healthcare services and government support.
We will continue fighting to protect the survival of Ontario’s species and the well-being of Ontarians. It is essential that we look further into the future than the remaining three years of our current provincial government’s mandate to ensure that the choices we make benefit all.
Humanity is, indeed, at a fork in the road. The path we choose to follow will determine the fate of our natural world and, ultimately, the fate of our descendants.
Read the original editorial and more at: view.publitas.com/on-nature/summer-2019/page/4-5
To find out how to subscribe to On Nature magazine, click on – https://onnaturemagazine.com/subscribe .
About Ontario Nature and its Mission –
Ontario Nature is a conservation organization that protects wild species and spaces through conservation, education and public engagement.
Ontario Nature is a charitable organization representing more than 30,000 members and supporters, and more than 150 member groups from across Ontario.
Since it was established as the Federation of Ontario Naturalists in 1931, Ontario Nature has been a champion for nature in Ontario.
Our vision is simple: An Ontario where nature inspires and sustains us for generations to come.
For more information on Ontario Nature and its work to conserve our natural heritage, visit the organization’s website by clicking on – https://ontarionature.org/ /
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