Sunday, 18 November 2018

Alternate Voices: Reconnecting Humans with Nature

It’s easy to get caught up in the mainstream flow of media, but there are alternate voices. Here are just a few that we enjoy reading. Let us know what you read when exploring the connections between humans and nature.

Beside magazine out of Montreal prides itself on “bridging the gap between humans and nature.” The magazine is printed on 100% post-consumer recycled paper produced at a Quebec mill that runs on biogas, purifies the water it uses, and ships its waste to nearby farms to feed the soil. Printing and distribution are also as environmentally friendly as possible.

The articles range from invisible roads and wildlife crossings to raptors, technology, and back-to-basics living. The most recent issue, released November 15, explores the ways in which we are building our future with nature. You can purchase a paper copy, sign up for a monthly email newsletter, or receive some of their articles via RSS feed. There’s also a quarterly dispatch of audio stories.

Earth Island Journal
Earth Island Journal’s goal is to “highlight the subtle but profound connections between the environment and other contemporary issues.” As the media arm of the Earth Island Institute, their goal is to “make a passionate argument for defending Earth.” Their most recent issue includes articles on noise pollution in the wild, breaking down the barriers (women climate scientists, queering the environmental movement), and dogs that are sniffing out killer whale scats. The Journal is a quarterly paper publication. Many articles are available on their website.

New Nature
New Nature is a digital youth nature magazine out of the UK. It’s written, edited, and produced entirely by young people under 30. The current issue includes articles on social media as a resource for ecological research, sundews, shrews, and prescriptions for nature. You can subscribe to or download the magazine from their website.

Orion is an American magazine exploring the connection between nature and culture. The current issue includes articles on climate adaptation and new ways of thinking about medicine, witnessing a solar eclipse, and a piece by Wendell Berry. Paper and digital subscriptions are available and some articles are available online.

Resurgence & Ecologist
Resurgence & Ecologist is a British magazine offering “positive perspectives on a range of engaging topics covering ecology, social justice, philosophy, spirituality, sustainable development and the arts.” The current issue includes articles on hope despite extinction and deforestation, a rewilding project in the Netherlands, and tips on how to minimize waste in the holiday season. Subscribers have access to articles online as well as PDF and paper versions of the magazine as a whole.

The Ecological Citizen 
The Ecological Citizen is a digital, peer-reviewed ecocentric journal “confronting human supremacy in defence of the earth.” Recent articles discuss humans’ relationship with the biosphere, dying ecologically, and a critique by George Monbiot of the belief that everything has a price.

You May Also Enjoy
Alternatives Journal - Alternatives Journal says its mandate is to “promote an understanding of ‘environment’ in the broadest sense of the word, including social and political dimensions, and stimulate dialogue about environmental issues”

Anthropocene - Anthropocene is a print and digital publication explores “how we can create a sustainable human age we actually want to live in”

Ensia - Ensia is a “a solutions-focused nonprofit media outlet reporting on our changing planet” and motivating people to create a more sustainable future

The Narwhal - The Narwhal is a digital publication by a team of investigative journalists dispelling myths about Canada’s natural environment

The Nature of Cities - The Nature of Cities is an international platform for discussing ideas about “cities as ecosystems of people, nature, and infrastructure”

Tuesday, 13 November 2018

EcoSask News, November 13, 2018

sunrise across the park

Upcoming Events 
Smarter Science, Better Buildings, Nov. 13-16 (Prince Albert) 
Grade 7 students and the general public are invited to view the Smarter Science, Better Buildings exhibit in the foyer of Prince Albert’s City Hall from Nov. 13-16.

East Africa Trip, Nov. 19 (Regina)
Dale Hjertaas will present on his recent trip to East Africa at the 7:30 pm, Nov. 19, meeting of Nature Regina.

Hidden Bird Song, Nov. 20 (Prince Albert) 
Join Nature Prince Albert for a talk on bird song from 7-9 pm, Nov. 20.

Man of the Trees Book Launch, Nov. 20 (Saskatoon) 
Join Paul Hanley at McNally Robinson Booksellers at 7 pm, Nov. 20, for the launch of his new book, Man of the Trees: Richard St. Barbe Baker, The First Global Conservationist.

Indigenous Green Energy Forum, Nov. 21 (Saskatoon) 
First Nations Power Authority is hosting the 4th annual Indigenous Green Energy Forum from 8 am-4 pm, Nov. 21, in Saskatoon.

Trash Talk, Nov. 22 (Saskatoon) 
You’re invited to attend a waste reduction workshop offering tips and tricks on how to reduce your waste footprint from 6:30-9:30 pm, Nov. 22.

Saskatoon Cycles AGM, Nov. 23 (Saskatoon) 
Saskatoon Cycles is holding their annual general meeting at 5 pm, Nov. 23, at Venice House on Central Avenue.

EcoHack, Nov. 23-25 (Saskatoon) 
Participate in EcoHack, Nov. 23-25 at the U of S, and help solve local environmental and sustainability challenges.

Carbonless Concert, Nov. 24 (Saskatoon)
Enjoy local music at a carbonless concert from 6:30-9 pm, Nov. 24.

A full list of upcoming events can be found on the EcoFriendly Sask Calendar 

sunrise through the trees

In the News
Minneapolis is stepping up enforcement of sidewalk snow removal to increase walkability. 

Our wilderness areas are often noisy places.

“Those of us who study insects are passionate about them in a way that can seem incomprehensible to outsiders. People get why Jane Goodall loves chimps; they are less sanguine about my fondness for earwigs.”

Owls, hares, and butterflies - three great new nature reference guides.

EcoSask News is a weekly round-up of local news and events. Email us if you have items you would like us to include. 

You can follow EcoFriendly Sask by liking us on Facebook, following us on Twitter, or by email (top right corner).

Tuesday, 6 November 2018

EcoSask News, November 6, 2018

seeds and bridge

Upcoming Events 
Wildlife Disease Ecology, Nov. 9 (Saskatoon) 
The WildEcol seminar series is held at 3:30 pm, every other Friday, on the U of S campus:
Nov. 9 – Wildlife disease ecology

Decorate a Tree, Nov. 14 (Moose Jaw) 
Decorate a tree for birds and wildlife at the 6:30 pm, Nov. 14, meeting of the Moose Jaw Nature Society.

Regina Beach Enviro Collective, Nov. 14 (Regina Beach) 
The Regina Beach Enviro Collective will be holding their first meeting at 7:30 pm, Nov. 14, at Regina Beach.

Bat Migration, Nov. 15 (webinar) 
Erin Swerdfeger will discuss bat landscape use during migration in Saskatchewan in a noon-hour webinar hosted by SK PCAP on Nov. 15.

SK Breeding Bird Atlas, Nov. 15 (Saskatoon) 
Kiel Drake will update the Saskatoon Nature Society on the SK Breeding Bird Atlas at 7:30 pm, Nov. 15.

Sustainability on Campus, Nov. 16 (Saskatoon) 
Join the U of S Office of Sustainability from 12-1 pm or over a pint at 5 pm, every third Friday of the month.

Repair Café Prince Albert, Nov. 17 (Prince Albert) 
Share and learn skills to repair things at Repair Café Prince Albert from 1-4 pm, Nov. 17.

Household Hazardous Waste Day (Saskatoon) 
You can dispose of household hazardous waste in Saskatoon from 8 am – 2:30 pm, Nov. 17.

bare branches by the river

Saskatoon Nature Society Field Trips 
Nov. 11, 1-5 pm, Pike Lake Birding
Nov. 25, 2-3 pm, Pre-Grey Cup Birding, President Murray Park
Everyone is welcome. Check the Saskatoon Nature Society’s website for full details and updated information.

A full list of upcoming events can be found on the EcoFriendly Sask Calendar 

In the News
The Saskatoon Nature Society is accepting applications by December 31, 2018, for the Kids in Nature grant. Additional information is available online.

Join an Enviro Collective group in Saskatchewan. “It’s a group of people who meet. Like a 'book' club, we’ll eat, drink and socialize but while we are hanging out, we’ll also be engaging in meaningful discussions about how we can take individual and collective steps to live more environmentally friendly lives. What’s potentially different about this environmental initiative is that we’re going to make it fun. And by getting together as a collective, we might feel more inspired than by simply acting on our own.”

The Canadian Network for Environmental Education and Communication is inviting proposals for presentations, workshops, or posters on Action on Climate Change through Education for the May 10-12 conference in Saskatoon. The deadline is January 15.

The Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area advises drivers to slow down and look out for deer on Valley Road and Cedar Villa Road.

Churchill Community High School hosted the 2nd Northern Saskatchewan Eco Conference Oct. 26-27.

“The loss of biodiversity is a silent killer” - stop biodiversity loss or we could face our own extinction.

11 wildly coloured moths to brighten your day.

EcoSask News is a weekly round-up of local news and events. Email us if you have items you would like us to include. 

You can follow EcoFriendly Sask by liking us on Facebook, following us on Twitter, or by email (top right corner).

Sunday, 4 November 2018

Nature is All Around Us: Defining & Promoting Urban Natural Areas

island bird life
Island bird life, Saskatoon

We don’t need to go to Cypress Hills or Waskesiu to experience nature. We don’t even need to be in a park. In our towns and cities, nature is all around us – in our backyards, vacant lots, and railway rights of way as well as our riverbanks and parks.

As part of the development of a Green Strategy, the City of Saskatoon held meetings with interested locals on October 29, 2018, to obtain input into draft Natural Areas Standards and an Urban Forestry Management Plan. It was an interesting process and raised a number of questions that merit further discussion and are relevant no matter where you live.

What is a Natural Area?
Saskatoon’s Green Strategy states that the City “will strive to ensure all residents have access to a network of high quality, multifunctional, seamlessly integrated green spaces.” The Strategy then sets out a number of ways in which the City will work to achieve this goal. The majority of the strategies are focused on human interests, but they do include conserving “biodiversity through the identification and conservation of natural areas and by increasing their interconnections.”

Workshop participants pointed out a number of gaps in the current map of Saskatoon’s natural areas. These include (but are not limited to):
  • Omission of the river; 
  • Failure to recognize the important wildlife habitat provided by areas such as cemeteries; 
  • Omission of wildlife corridors, such as the river valley and railway rights of way; 
  • Need to incorporate light pollution mitigation strategies and dark sky areas into natural areas standards; 
  • Fragmentation of natural areas (Saskatoon’s Northeast Swale has been divided into a recreational zone and a core ecological zone) and failure to provide a connection to the river for animals such as deer; 
  • Inclusion of dog parks, which damage plants and grasses and preclude wildlife habitat; and 
  • Need to respect the integrity of the ecosystem as a whole by establishing connectivity between natural areas both within and without the city. 
Other issues that were raised included:
  • Need for cities to take ownership beyond their formal boundaries (New York City is taking responsibility for maintaining the quality of its watershed); 
  • Need to provide leadership by offering incentives and regulations for commercial green infrastructure (e.g. green roofs, permeable parking lots); 
  • Need for a comprehensive strategy: Do we prioritize areas with species at risk? Do we prioritize areas of abundance? Do we protect areas that are no longer wholly natural or do we eliminate them from further consideration because there has been some degradation or they were used for farming in the past? Do we simply maintain and protect or do we attempt to restore? 
  • Need to recognize that some areas have important ecological value in some seasons or some years but not necessarily all the time (migration staging areas change from year to year, wetlands may only be wet on a seasonal basis); 
  • Need to identify the requirements of different species. Insects and deer, for example, require different amounts of space and use the land very differently; and 
  • Need to design parks that help people “understand, appreciate, and stand up for nature, rather than thinking of parks as simply playgrounds.” 
Hyde Park, Saskatoon
Urban Trees
Saskatoon is developing an Urban Forest Management Plan and has identified different categories of trees. Remnant aspen stands and original forested areas are particularly important. It would be interesting to map food forests and analyze their role in ensuring food security. Dead trees play an important role as wildlife habitat and need to be maintained rather than being viewed as messy or potentially dangerous.

Trees have a value far beyond their replacement cost. They provide shade and shelter, wildlife habitat, beauty, and tranquillity. Neighbourhood trees have social and cultural value, forming part of our sense of place and belonging. Discussions around when trees should be maintained, when it’s okay to remove them, and how to compensate for their loss need to consider all these factors. This is particularly difficult when considering trees on private property and requires a designation scheme that takes into consideration heritage value, age and species, etc.


Nature Is All Around Us
Pinpointing natural areas on a map fails to recognize that nature is all around us. Wild animals need a suitable habitat, but that may not be “a remote wilderness or protected sanctuary; it must only have sufficient resources to attract and support a population.” There are 3 times as many endangered species in Australian cities than there are in the country’s rural areas.

Once we accept that we share our cities with other wildlife, we can begin to look at the best ways of cohabiting for mutual benefit. There will need to be educational programs (co-existing with coyotes), infrastructure upgrades (wildlife resistant garbage cans, non-reflective treatments for glass), and clear policies (rules of engagement).

An emerging field is biodiversity-sensitive urban design (BSUD) that contributes to biodiversity, building “nature into the urban fabric by linking urban planning and design to the basic needs and survival of native plants and animals.” BSUD is based on 5 principles: protect and create habitat, help species disperse, minimise anthropogenic threats, promote ecological processes, and encourage positive human-nature interactions. The principles can be applied to individual houses (e.g. green roofs, mix of native trees and plants, reduced building footprint, keeping cats indoors) and extends to neighbourhood design (wide boulevards, courtyard-focused buildings).

Tuesday, 30 October 2018

EcoSask News, October 30, 2018

Red-shafted Northern Flicker

Upcoming Events 
Going Solar in SK, Nov. 1 (Regina) 
Find out about solar energy in Saskatchewan fromSkyFire Energy from 6:30-8 pm, Nov. 1, at the Regina Science Centre.

Regional Approaches to Energy Diversification, Nov. 7 (Saskatoon) 
Sandra Moore will discuss regional approaches to energy diversification at the Nov. 7 breakfast meeting of SK Energy Management Task Force.

Walking Saskatoon, Nov. 4 (Saskatoon) 
Everyone is welcome to attend Walking Saskatoon’s meeting from 1-2:30 pm, Nov. 4, at Tastebuds Café, 1624 Lorne Avenue. Discussion topics will include infill housing, loss of traffic safety revenue, and progress on Vision Zero.

Radiance Cohousing Open House, Nov. 10 (Saskatoon) 
Tour Radiance Cohousing, a cohousing project pursuing Passive House certification, on Nov. 10.

Looking Ahead
Indigenous Green Energy Forum, Nov. 21 (Saskatoon)
First Nations Power Authority is hosting the 4th annual Indigenous Green Energy Forum from 8 am-4 pm, Nov. 21, in Saskatoon.

EcoHack, Nov. 23-25 (Saskatoon) 
Participate in EcoHack, Nov. 23-25 at the U of S, and help solve local environmental and sustainability challenges.

Wilderness First Aid, Nov. 30-Dec. 2 (Saskatoon) 
SaskOutdoors is hosting a Wilderness & Remote First Aid Workshop Nov. 30-Dec. 2 (location near Saskatoon).

A full list of upcoming events can be found on the EcoFriendly Sask Calendar 

Red-shafted Northern Flicker

In the News
Regina commits to 100% renewable energy by 2050 

There’s been lots of news coverage of this past weekend’s Just Transitions Summit. Here are articles from Global News and CBC

A proposed diamond mine on sacred Indigenous territory in Fort a la Corne forest passes environmental review. The proposed site would cover 9200 hectares in the forest

University of Saskatchewan environmental law professor Jason McLean says we should kill Bill C-69 as it undermines efforts to tackle climate change. The alternative? "Canada should assess all economic projects on the cumulative basis of a “net contribution to sustainability test.” If a proposed project doesn’t make an overall contribution to sustainability and decarbonization, then it doesn’t proceed." 

Some ecologists believe that we should save endangered species by introducing them into our cities - not everyone agrees

Batteries will always have adverse environmental impacts, but ongoing development and invention can do much to minimize them

The sharing economy continues to expand - swap goods or expertise for accommodation during Barter Week

EcoSask News is a weekly round-up of local news and events. Email us if you have items you would like us to include. 

You can follow EcoFriendly Sask by liking us on Facebook, following us on Twitter, or by email (top right corner).

Tuesday, 23 October 2018

EcoSask News, October 23, 2018

backlit grass

Upcoming Events
Take Me Outside Day, Oct. 24
Teachers are encouraged to take their students outside for at least an hour on Oct. 24, Take Me Outside Day.

Art & Science in Wildlife Management, Oct. 26 (Saskatoon)
The WildEcol seminar series is held at 3:30 pm, every other Friday, on the U of S campus:
Oct. 26 – Bridging the gap between art and science in wildlife management

Anthropocene, Oct. 26 (Saskatoon)
Anthropocene, a cinematic overview of humanity’s reengineering of the planet, is being screened at the Roxy Theatre on Oct. 26. Check for the book, with photographs by Edward Burtynsky, in your local library or bookstore.

Travels South of the Equator, Oct. 27 (Fort Qu’Appelle)
Jean and Peter Ascroft will share their travels south of the equator on two continents at the 7 pm, Oct. 27, meeting of the Fort Qu’Appelle Nature Society (at the Fort Qu’Appelle Train Station).

NE Swale: More than an Urban Park, Oct. 30 (Saskatoon)
Join the Northeast Swale Watchers from 7-9 pm, Oct. 30, to learn about the Northeast Swale, progress to date, and ongoing challenges.

There will be 5 short presentations: Renny Grilz, Meewasin, What's in the Swale: The Unique Wildlife and Plants of the Northeast Swale; Dr. Ryan Brook, University of Saskatchewan, Monitoring and Mitigating the Impacts of Roads on Wildlife; Rick Huziak, Sask Light Pollution Abatement Group, Reducing Night Lighting for a Healthy Swale; Brenda Wallace, City of Saskatoon, Protecting What Matters - Policy Perspectives; Candace Savage, The Last Refuge: Why Protecting the Swale Matters.

Household Hazardous Waste Day, Oct. 28 (Saskatoon)
You can dispose of household hazardous waste in Saskatoon from 8 am-2:30 pm, Oct. 28.

Lakeridge Park Field Trip, Nov. 3 (Regina)
Join Nature Regina from 10 am to noon, Nov. 3, on a birding field trip at Lakeridge Park.

Library of Things Volunteer Orientation, Nov. 3 (Saskatoon)
Saskatoon’s Library of Things is hosting a volunteer orientation from 12-1 pm, Nov. 3.

A full list of upcoming events can be found on the EcoFriendly Sask Calendar 

In the News
Two articles raise serious concerns for Saskatchewan residents:
     Air quality readings are off the chart in southeast Saskatchewan
     The government needs to allow regulators to enforce the regulations

Turtles survived the asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs, but will they survive the Anthropocene? Where have all the turtles gone and why does it matter?

Coyotes can help build back biodiversity in rural and urban areas

5 ways cities could dramatically cut carbon emissions

EcoSask News is a weekly round-up of local news and events. Email us if you have items you would like us to include. 

You can follow EcoFriendly Sask by liking us on Facebook, following us on Twitter, or by email (top right corner).

Sunday, 21 October 2018

Wildlife, Land, and People


It’s a hefty tome, but we’re intrigued by the premise behind Donald G. Wetherell’s book, Wildlife, Land, and People: A Century of Change in Prairie Canada. The book examines the relationships people have had with wild animals on the Canadian prairies between 1870 and 1960. 

Here are just a few excerpts from the Introduction. If you’re interested in environmental history and the changing, complex relationships between humans and non-humans, you can order the book from your library or bookstore. 

“Aboriginal economies and the fur trade had depended on wild animals, but the new prairie farm economy had no such long-term needs. Indeed, its success was predicated upon changes in regional fauna and flora. . . . In part this reflected that most Euro-Canadian settlers did not see wild animals as having intrinsic values, nor did they see any personal gain to be derived from accommodating the region’s existing natural systems.”

“An equally important impact of agriculture was the change that it brought to the land. Whatever the number of wild animals killed, the greatest overall change in animal populations and distribution came because of habitat change. Clearing and breaking the land and dedicating every available acre of land to production devastated the habitat of some species while inadvertently creating new niches for others.”

“Legislation about wildlife was important well beyond its enforcement for it created and shaped standards for public encounters with wildlife and asserted the state’s legal authority over all wild animals. This legislation also validated certain patterns of behaviour towards wild animals, explicitly and implicitly promoted assumptions about the value of individual species, and sustained particular social and political relationships with them, including their treatment as natural resources to be exploited and managed for long-term productivity.”

“Keeping wild animals as pets, watching them in national parks or zoos, visiting museums, and participating in natural history outings and meetings often validated human dominance and use of the natural world. But it is equally evident that, for some people, such activities reflected their curiosity and fascination with wild animals and that watching, studying, and interacting with them revealed the magic of life and provided a connection to the world.”

“Bison, for example, only became nostalgic symbols of the prairie past when they had been confined to zoos and parks and no longer challenged Euro-Canadian agricultural settlement.”

“The history of people’s relationships with wild animals on the Canadian prairies can help us understand that while these relationships have often been sorry ones, more sensitive and respectful models and attitudes have been present all along and can be drawn upon to inform our ongoing interaction with the natural world.”