Tuesday 25 January 2022

EcoSask News, January 25, 2022


Upcoming Events 
PCAP-SK is hosting a webinar on habitat occupancy by breeding Pied-billed and Horned Grebes in Prairie Canada: correlates of pond use and breeding success at noon, Jan. 27. 

Nature Regina is hosting a winter bio-blitz at various times on Jan. 29. Register on their website. 

EMTF-SK will host an online breakfast presentation on Saskatchewan's Energy Storage Advantage: Compressed Air Energy Storage in Salt Caverns on Feb. 2. 

PCAP-SK is hosting a webinar on a watershed stewardship approach to invasive species education and management at noon, Feb. 2. 

The Institute for Environmental Sustainability is hosting a webinar on the importance of peatlands for nature and people on Feb. 2. 

Full details of all upcoming events are listed on the EcoFriendly Sask Calendar 

Low Tech 
A low-tech solution – hot water bottles. [Low-Tech Magazine

Zero Waste 
British Columbia leads the way on recycling and composting programs, but more is still needed. A plan to get BC to zero waste by 2040 emphasizes reducing waste production, repair & maintenance, extended producer responsibility, and closing disposal loopholes. [The Tyee

A frying pan made from recycled aluminum cans, bicycle parts, and other recycled metal can be manufactured using 95% less energy than a conventional aluminum frying pan. [Kuhn Rikon

Carbon capture at Shell’s blue hydrogen facility near Edmonton is capturing less than 50% of the facility’s total emissions. [Gizmodo

Satellites can play an important role in identifying methane emissions, the first step in tackling a key source of GHG emissions. [Smithsonian

Turning big box store rooftops into solar farms could generate a lot of electricity. [Gizmodo]

We Can Make a Difference 
A new conservation foundation plans “to provide Indigenous and other land-based communities with funds to protect endangered ecosystems and build economic alternatives to the logging of at-risk old-growth forests.” [CTV

A low-energy kitchen, carpets made from recycled fishing nets, solar panels, and bees and wildflowers on the roof – this hotel is paying more than lip service to environmental sustainability. [The Guardian

John Stimpson has built 30,000 nest boxes for swifts, not to mention the nest boxes he’s built for barn owls, blue tits, finches, blackbirds, and thrushes. [The Guardian

Tips to help you clear dangerous pollutants out of your home (and your body). [The Guardian]

The hidden cost of fish oil pills to personal and environmental health. [The Guardian

On the Bookshelf 
Though the Earth Gives Way, a novel by Pullitzer Prize-winning journalist Mark S. Johnson, shares the stories of individuals fleeing a climate apocalypse. “We are good at divorcing ourselves from consequences,” Johnson says. “I wanted readers to feel as if they’d glimpsed the other side, the world to come.” [Madison Magazine

Nature’s Wonders 
A rare sighting of blanket octopus. Males are 2.4 centimetres – females grow up to 2 metres! [The Guardian

When large numbers of snowy owls appear in southern Canada and the US, we assume they’re starving. Not so, according to SK researchers. “It’s due to a bumper crop of young snowies during a very good breeding season.” [All About Birds

Check out EcoFriendly Sask’s Nature Companion, a free nature app for Canada’s four western provinces 

EcoFriendly Sask supports Saskatchewan environmental initiatives through an online publication, an events calendar, small grants, and the Nature Companion website/app. You can follow EcoFriendly Sask by liking us on Facebook, following us on Twitter, or subscribing by email (top right corner).

Thursday 20 January 2022

Community Highlight: Friends of Wascana Marsh

1. How and when did you form your group? 
Friends of Wascana Marsh (Friends) was created in 2003 in advance of the “Big Dig” project which was slated to deepen Wascana Lake. The group was formed with the general purpose of protecting Wascana Marsh and lobbying for conservation efforts to be taken during the Big Dig project. The project, under the direction of the City of Regina, contracted companies to drain the lake, remove 1.3 million cubic meters of material, and refill the lake. Minimizing general ecological and shoreline damage was our focus during this time. 

2. What are your principal activities and why do you believe they’re important? 
Our mandate continues to focus on the general conservation of Wascana Marsh and the protection of its species, as well as the promotion, use, and exploration of the marsh area. Today, most of our principal activities revolve around education and promotion of the marsh, specifically the Habitat Conservation Area. 

Over the past few years, we have participated in multiple festivals such as the Cathedral Arts Fest and Summer Bash. We have also partnered with other nature-focused groups in Regina to co-host and participate in smaller events. In these settings we provide educational material through posters, pamphlets, and expertise. When possible, we attempt to bring the marsh to life wherever we go by offering activities such as mobile pond dipping (water samples are collected from the marsh and returned) and bug catching/viewing. These activities are used to educate children and adults alike on biodiversity within the marsh and surrounding area. 

We have continued to organize and be involved in school days in which the Habitat Conservation Area is used as an outdoor classroom for a day in the spring. The Provincial Capital Commission’s (PCC) in-house ecologists assist us in taking multiple primary classes through various nature-focused activities. 

Friends has organized and led multiple shoreline garbage clean-ups over the past few years with other local businesses and organizations in Regina. 

3. What have been your successes to date?
Friends’ first major success came with our involvement in the Big Dig in 2003 by ensuring the City of Regina minimized the disruption to the Wascana ecology and shoreline. Over almost 20 years, we have successfully completed several projects of our own and supported many other organizations through various partnerships. In recent years some notable successes include supporting the Wascana Turtle Program, researching and lobbying for the implementation of black-marginated loosestrife beetles by the PCC and the City of Regina to deal with the purple loosestrife (invasive species) population, helping with the organization and operation of the City Nature Challenge in Regina, and operating small-group guided tours though the Habitat Conservation Area during the Covid pandemic. We are currently sponsoring the Regina Urban Wildlife Project to support the research of urban wildlife corridors and biodiversity monitoring in Regina. 

4. What would you like to achieve in future? 
Although no specific projects are planned, Friends continues to work towards the promotion of knowledge and community education along with respectful usage of Wascana Marsh. The Habitat Conservation Area and the broader marsh area have been a hidden gem within the City of Regina; we believe that we have a duty to promote urban ecological exploration and conservation of such a wonderful setting. 

5. Are there volunteer opportunities with your organization? If so, please describe them and indicate how people can contact you. 
We are always looking to broaden our volunteer base in order to run effective and engaging activities such as festival participation and guided tours. As we eventually get through the pandemic, many volunteer opportunities will arise. We suggest that anyone who is interested consider becoming a member of Friends of Wascana Marsh or joining our board. Our annual AGM is typically held in late January each year (January 20, 2022) with an open invitation to anyone to attend. We also welcome new members throughout the year so anyone interested is encouraged to check us out at any time. If you want to join us or simply want more information, email us at friendsofwascanamarsh@gmail.com 

You can follow the activities of Friends of Wascana Marsh on both Facebook and Twitter

Tuesday 18 January 2022

EcoSask News, January 18, 2022

frosty foggy morning

Upcoming Events 
Wild Ecol Seminar Series is hosting an online presentation on the seasonal migration of Water Boatmen as a linkage between wetland and river ecosystems at 3:30 pm, Jan. 21. 

Catherine Beaudoin will discuss local food and reducing food waste in an online presentation from 7-8:30 pm, Jan. 25, organized by the Saskatchewan Environmental Society and the Saskatoon Public Library. 

SaskOutdoors is hosting an online presentation on tools and resources for teaching about climate change and sustainability at 4 pm, Jan. 25. 

Looking Ahead 
The Citizens Environmental Alliance – Saskatchewan is hosting the second half of a virtual conference on Farmland Drainage and the Environment from Feb. 28 to Mar. 4. Topics include: does farmland drainage actually pay, wetland policies in the Prairie provinces, and landowner rights and responsibilities: laws, stewardship ethics, and conservation psychology. 

Full details of all upcoming events can be found on the EcoFriendly Sask Calendar 

Reinventing the electric grid is essential if we are to reach 100% renewable electricity. Storage, greater generation range and transmission, and managing demand to better match supply will be required to accommodate the variability of wind and solar energy. [Undark

Women who live closer to oil and gas drilling are at higher risk of pregnancy complications, while infants have a greater risk of health complications. The oil industry has fought the introduction of setback requirements. [DeSmog

The oil and gas sector accounted for 26% of Canada’s GHG emissions in 2019, while oilsands emissions rose by 137% between 2005 and 2019. To meet Canada’s climate goals, the government will have “to follow through on a series of increasingly stringent caps on emissions from oil and gas sources.” [Pembina Institute]
sunrise through the trees

The New York Fashion Act will require large fashion companies to “detail the lifecycle of their garments: from the farms where the raw materials were extracted, through to factories and shipping. They must then identify the points where they have the greatest adverse impact on the environment and people. It will require them to examine fair wages, energy use, greenhouse gas emissions, water and chemical management. They also have to make concrete plans to do better … Failure to do so will see the firms fined up to 2 per cent of their annual revenues.” [Euronews Green

Nature’s Wonders 
Giant millipedes as big as cars (2.7 m long weighing 50 kg) roamed Great Britain approximately 326 million years ago. [Euronews Green]
Yellow-spotted millipede

The Yellow-spotted Millipede is found in the Pacific Northwest. The yellow spots are a vibrant warning to steer clear or you’ll be sprayed with hydrogen cyanide, which is lethal to birds and rodents. (Cool Green Science

EcoFriendly Sask supports Saskatchewan environmental initiatives through an online publication, an events calendar, small grants, and the Nature Companion website/app. You can follow EcoFriendly Sask by liking us on Facebook, following us on Twitter, or subscribing by email (top right corner).

Tuesday 11 January 2022

EcoSask News, January 11, 2021

pool surrounded by greenery

Upcoming Events 
EMTF-SK is hosting an online presentation on developing Saskatchewan’s sustainable energy economy at 7:30 am, Jan. 12. 

The Johnson-Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy is hosting a video conference on building an equitable Canadian science system from 12-1 pm, Jan. 13. 

Nature Regina is hosting an online presentation on Indigenous peoples’ rights and environmental protection at 7 pm, Jan. 17. 

Saskatoon Nature Society is hosting an online presentation on invertebrate diversity, distribution, and ecology at 7:30 pm, Jan. 20. 

Nature Saskatchewan is hosting an online nature trivia night at 7 pm, Feb. 9. 

Full details on all upcoming events are listed on the EcoFriendly Sask Calendar 

Consumer Choices 
“The most important thing consumers can do is to educate themselves about their purchases.” Vegan leather is a petroleum byproduct. Plant-based leather is a better option. [Inhabitat

The Alberta EcoTrust Foundation, with support from the Alberta Real Estate Foundation, is undertaking a pilot project to provide digital home energy labels for houses in Calgary and Edmonton. The label will show how much energy the home uses and compare it to other similar homes. [Alberta EcoTrust] This is in line with France’s plan to notify potential home owners of a property’s energy rating. [Cities in the Next Decade

“In the past decade alone, $40 trillion has been divested from fossil fuels ... Divestment is showing in real time that everyday people can take part in the fight against climate change, and it’s demonstrating to financial firms that climate change is no longer a worthy investment.” [Yes Magazine

French car ads will be required to discourage driving and promote alternate forms of transportation. [Yale Environment 360]
Downy (or Hairy) woodpecker

Industry & Mining 
A survey of participants in the Alberta Oilsands Monitoring Program finds monitoring to be ineffective with crucial questions being left unanswered. [La Ronge Now

Half of global passenger-vehicle sales are expected to be electric by 2035, indicating a shift from a fuel-intensive to a material-intensive system. This will entail two big challenges. “One is how to cut down on the metals in batteries that are scarce, expensive, or problematic because their mining carries harsh environmental and social costs. Another is to improve battery recycling, so that the valuable metals in spent car batteries can be efficiently reused.” [Nature

Pembina Institute has published a report on the Status of Boreal Woodland Caribou Conservation in Canada. It finds that “to help the species recover conservation efforts to protect the last remaining tracts of critical habitat must be prioritized. The habitats that caribou inhabit – boreal forests and peatlands – are among the most carbon-rich in the world. When caribou habitat is lost to activities such as oil and gas development and logging, significant amounts of greenhouse gases (GHGs) are released. On the other hand, when caribou habitat is conserved carbon remains in the ground.” [Pembina

The Province of Saskatchewan’s “weak response to the climate emergency amounts to an implicit denial … The provincial government is clinging to the wrong side of history by failing to meaningfully collaborate with people in Saskatchewan — both Indigenous and non-Indigenous — and take corrective action.” [The Narwhal

Protecting Biodiversity 
Fungal networks support much of life on earth. SPUN aims to accelerate efforts to protect underground ecosystems largely absent from conservation and climate agendas. [SPUN

Protecting roadless areas could go a long way in helping to reach conservation goals and slow extinctions – a point worth considering in Canada where we continue to add new roads. [The Revelator

Starting in 2023, farmers in England will be paid for nature restoration and creation on their land (creation of hedgerows and wildflower meadows, wetland restoration). [Edie

EcoFriendly Sask supports Saskatchewan environmental initiatives through an online publication, an events calendar, small grants, and the Nature Companion website/app. You can follow EcoFriendly Sask by liking us on Facebook, following us on Twitter, or subscribing by email (top right corner).

Thursday 6 January 2022

Looking Ahead: Cities in the Next Decade

rainy view from Granville Island Hotel

With over 80% of the Canadian population now living in urban areas, how we design, build, and live in our cities has a significant impact on the environment. Cities can lead the way in addressing climate change or lag behind. We’ve found a number of reports and examples of how cities can successfully address climate change. 

A Changing Climate 
“The climate determines almost everything about how we design, build, and live in our cities. The streets and sidewalks, businesses and homes, parking lots and public transit that we use every day have been created to suit our climate. Now, with our climate changing, we need to re-think important aspects of how we live our urban lives.” [Canadian Cities and Climate Change, Climate Atlas of Canada] 
The Prairie Climate Centre’s interdisciplinary team are climate change storytellers. They’ve developed Building a Climate-Resilient City, a set of 9 reports on how we can set about building climate-resilient cities. Specifically addressing the concerns of Calgary and Edmonton, the reports cover economics and finance, agriculture and food security, urban ecosystems, transformational adaptation, transportation infrastructure, water supply and sanitation systems, electricity and information and communication technology infrastructure, the built environment, and disaster preparedness and emergency management. In addition to providing an overview of the issues, the reports share ideas and approaches that can be implemented immediately to bring about meaningful climate action in the face of a changing climate. 

Nature-based Solutions 
The Green Communities Guide from Alberta’s Land Stewardship Centre is designed to help communities plan and implement nature-based solutions and strategies to conserve water, protect water quality, preserve agricultural land, and protect critical open spaces and wildlife habitat. Nature-based solutions are actions designed to protect, manage, and restore natural ecosystems in ways that benefit both humans and biodiversity as a whole. The online guide outlines the benefits of nature-based solutions for communities, businesses, and nature, providing case studies and tools to assist with financing, recommended practices, and other practical considerations. 

Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London, England, has introduced far-reaching plans to green his city. They include: 
  • Rewilding parks and other green spaces through reintroducing lost species, rewiggling streams, creating pocket parks, and setting up nest boxes; 
  • Rain gardens, trees, and a reduction of impermeable paving to reduce flash flooding; and 
  • Living roofs and walls. 
An Urban Greening Factor will be part of all new developments. 
“The Urban Greening Factor (UGF) formula, inspired by the Swedish city of Malmö’s ‘green points’ system, scores each part of a development’s plan – including street-level areas, balconies and roofs – from 0 to 1, with trees, planters and green roofs earning high scores, while paving slabs and barren rooftops receive no score. Central government has also set out plans in the Environment Act 2021 to make developments deliver an uplift to biodiversity, which will require a 10% ‘biodiversity net gain’.”
supertrees and flower dome

In 2020 46.5% of Singapore’s land was covered in green space, with a tree canopy percentage of almost 30%. One of the greenest cities in the world, it has over 300 km of green corridors as part of the city state’s Park Connector Network. 

Tackling GHG Emissions 
As part of France’s massive Climat et Résilience bill, property owners are now expected to notify potential buyers of the home’s energy rating. Landlords will be unable to raise the rent on poorly insulated buildings and, by 2025, they will be unable to rent them out. 

Berlin-based activists are pushing hard to eliminate private vehicles in a 55-square mile area of the city centre. There are also plans to reintroduce the tram network and expand the subway system. Ghent’s city centre has been designated a low-emission zone, strictly limiting the number of cars driving through the downtown core. Oslo has removed all on-street parking from its city centre.
Nice beach

France plans to ban short-haul flights where a 2.5 hour train journey could be provided as an alternative. Both environmentalists and industry experts say it’s not enough. Too many train journeys are under 2.5 hours and the highest emissions come from long-haul flights. 

Working Together 
What may feel challenging or impossible on our own becomes doable when we band together. 

Transition Streets, a Transition Network program, brings neighbours together to implement simple household changes building community and addressing environmental issues. The 7-session handbook “empowers neighbors to improve household energy efficiency, reduce waste and water use, explore transportation options, and eat healthy, local food.” 

A network of cities, regions, and countries, have pledged to work towards producing everything they consume by 2054 as part of the Fab City Global Initiative. Canadian participants include Montreal and Bas-St.-Laurent. Local projects explore small batch design and production, open source data and technology, and novel materials, processes, and applications. 
“Addressing the regional environmental contamination and global ecological footprints associated with modern urbanisation is a historic challenge. On the positive side, it is in cities that dynamic, new ideas are often generated. In the face of the planetary emergency that is upon us, the challenge is to utilise this creativity to rethink cities as regenerative, environmentally beneficial systems, linking the wellbeing of individual urban citizens with humanity’s collective interest in the health of our home planet. Only by mainstreaming renewable energy resources and by protecting and continuously regenerating the ecosystems and soils from which they draw their sustenance can cities become a viable, long-term home for humanity.” [A New Age, Herbert Girardet, in a special issue of Resurgence & Ecologist dedicated to cities]

EcoFriendly Sask supports Saskatchewan environmental initiatives through an online publication, an events calendar, small grants, and the Nature Companion website/app. You can follow EcoFriendly Sask by liking us on Facebook, following us on Twitter, or subscribing by email (top right corner).

Tuesday 4 January 2022

EcoSask News, January 4, 2022

Double-crested cormorant

Upcoming Events 
SaskOutdoors will be hosting the following virtual workshops: 
Below Zero - 7-9 pm, Jan. 11 & 18 
Get Outside & Play - 7 pm, Jan. 17 
Project WILD - 7-9 pm, Jan. 24, 31, and Feb. 7 

Friends of Wascana Marsh will be holding a virtual annual general meeting at 7 pm, Jan. 20. 

Full details on all upcoming events can be found on the EcoFriendly Sask Calendar 

Countries “will never agree to ‘phase down’ or ‘phase out’ fossil fuel energy without a reasonable substitute source of energy.” Is nuclear power the answer? [Johnson-Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy

“The federal government should cap oilsands production to stop the rapid growth of toxic tailings. Then, industry should recycle the toxic waste instead of immediately dumping it.” Releasing tailings into the Athabasca River endangers the river and the people and wildlife that depend upon it. [The Narwhal

The largest solar project in Kentucky is being built on top of an abandoned mountain-top strip mine. [Yale Environment 360]
Anna's hummingbird

Pittsburgh plans to become dark-sky compliant, switching to lower wattage LED bulbs and adding shade along bridges, roads, and other public areas. It will also be the first city to follow the International Dark Sky Association’s new values-centered outdoor lighting [IDA], comprehensive suggestions surrounding wattage and colour temperature as well as when and how to keep lights on. [Bloomberg CityLab

“Expanding the area and number of protected areas is not the solution to maintaining or restoring ecological connectivity. Instead, management for conservation should address unprotected areas, especially ones near existing protected areas to minimize the loss of connectivity.” [Conservation Corridor]
autumn colors

“The yellow birch is not ‘just a tree,’ but a life filled with generosity, and is a life that will be around 150 years beyond my own.” [Nature Canada

Marvel at the intricate detail and colourful complexity of Singapore’s microfauna. [Nicky Bay’s Macro Photography

“For many scientists, the resonant mystery is no longer which animals are conscious, but which are not.” How birds, fishes, bees, and other sentient beings experience the world. [The Atlantic

“By land or by sea, early whales moved between continents and were a larger part of Earth’s ancient ecology than paleontologists previously expected.” [Smithsonian Magazine

EcoFriendly Sask supports Saskatchewan environmental initiatives through an online publication, an events calendar, small grants, and the Nature Companion website/app. You can follow EcoFriendly Sask by liking us on Facebook, following us on Twitter, or subscribing by email (top right corner).