Connecting people with nature in Ontario's Mississippi Valley

Message from Ontario Nature

Action Alert:

PLEASE NOTE: for up to date information regarding this Ontario Nature Action Alert, go to Ontario Nature’s website.

Canada’s most recognizable butterfly is in trouble. You now have the opportunity to speak up for monarch butterflies and urge the federal government to strengthen its draft management plan for this iconic species. While the plan certainly proposes some strong conservation measures, it is weak in terms of its overall objectives, targets and deadlines for action. We must do more for the monarch. The public consultation period on the draft plan ends on December 8, 2014.

Kens monarchphoto by Ken Allison

The monarch was listed as a species of special concern under the Species at Risk Act in 2003. It has declined dramatically over the past 15 – 20 years and is threatened by many factors including loss of breeding, nectaring and overwintering habitat, and the widespread use of pesticides and herbicides. Last winter, monarchs occupied just 0.67 hectares of their overwintering habitat in Mexico, only about 10 percent of their ten-year average of 6.39 hectares (1994 – 2014).

For many years, conservation efforts focused on habitat loss in the Oyamel fir forests of Mexico. While large-scale illegal logging has now been largely addressed, small-scale logging is an ongoing concern. But, there is a growing recognition that the reduction of milkweed in the monarch’s breeding habitats in the United States and Canada is also driving monarch declines.

The draft management plan identifies broad strategies and conservation measures needed at the international, national and local levels. But to be effective it needs to be significantly strengthened in the following ways.

1. The first objective of the plan should aim to recover Canada’s monarch populations, not just to “maintain the current Canadian contribution to the overall North American monarch population” (p. iii), as stated in the draft plan. Given that this species is known to be in decline, aiming only to maintain the current population simply enshrines a low and unacceptable baseline. Instead, the objective should be to halt the decline and increase the population within ten years.

     Recommendation 1: Revise the first objective so that it reads: “to mitigate threats to the monarch butterfly and ensure that there is sufficient breeding, nectaring and staging habitat in Canada to recover Canada’s contribution to the overall North American monarch population;”

2. The strategy dealing with Conservation and Management of Breeding and Nectaring Habitat (section 6.3, Table 5) does not address the use of pesticides in agriculture. The use of glyphosate herbicide in conjunction with glyphosate-tolerant crops is a key threat to the eastern population of monarchs.

     Recommendation 2: Under the Conservation and Management of Breeding and Nectaring Habitat strategy, include measures to address the impacts of pest control products used in agriculture.

3. The timelines for action under the Conservation Measures and Implementation Schedule (Table 5) are vague and distant (2019 and beyond). There are no responsibilities or roles assigned to any parties, including federal or provincial governments. Similarly, the indicators listed under Measuring Progress (Section 7) lack baselines, concrete targets and deadlines. A plan without these important features provides a very weak framework for decisive, timely action and for measuring solid progress.

     Recommendation 3: Revise the Conservation Measures and Implementation Schedule so that it includes more precise timelines as well as clearly defined roles and responsibilities to ensure timely and effective implementation of the plan. Similarly, revise Section 7 so that it includes baselines, concrete targets and deadlines for assessing progress.

Please join Ontario Nature in requesting a more robust management plan for the monarch butterfly. Remember, the deadline for comments is December 8, 2014.

Your comments can be submitted online: http://www.registrelep-sararegistry.gc.ca/document/default_e.cfm?documentID=1582

Or you can direct your comments to:

Recovery Planning
Environment Canada
15th Floor,
Place Vincent Massey
351 St. Joseph Boulevard
Gatineau, QC
K1A 0H3

Please see the sample letter below to send to Environment Canada.

“Dear Environment Canada, 

I urge you to strengthen the draft management plan for the monarch by:

1. setting a clear objective to recover populations in Canada and increase their numbers within ten years;

2. including measures to address the adverse impacts of pesticides and herbicides used in agriculture, a known threat to the species; and

3. including concrete targets, clear roles and responsibilities, and precise timelines for action and for measuring progress.

A plan without these important features provides a very weak framework for decisive, timely action and for measuring solid progress.”

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Ontario Nature Action Alert

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Message from Ontario Nature

It’s not every day that you have an opportunity to provide input on a brand new national park. Now is your chance! Parks Canada has posted for public comment its draft Management Plan for the proposed Rouge National Urban Park. The comment period ends this Thursday October 30, 2014.

Ontario Nature has done a thorough review of the draft plan and we feel three key changes are needed. Please lend your voice to help ensure the Rouge National Urban Park will adequately protect wild species and wild spaces in the heavily developed Greater Toronto Area.

There are many positive elements to the plan such as commitments to: link Lake Ontario with the Oak Ridges Moraine; encourage community involvement in habitat restoration and monitoring efforts; support active transportation, car-pooling and shuttle networks to get to and from the park; implement environmentally beneficial management practices on park farmland; and promote locally grown food. These elements should be retained and the draft management plan must be improved in the following ways:

  1. The plan must clearly prioritize ecological integrity and biodiversity conservation. The draft plan fails to prioritize the protection and restoration of the park’s natural features and values. Instead, it presents a vague vision of a “diverse landscape in Canada’s largest metropolitan area,” which offers “engaging and varied experiences.” The protection of natural, cultural and agricultural resources are all treated as on par, providing little guidance about how conflicts will be resolved.
  2. The plan must provide a coherent framework, with well-defined, measurable targets and set deadlines. The draft consists of a long list of actions and vague targets, with environmental considerations sprinkled throughout. There are not enough precise actions to be undertaken with associated deadlines.
  3. The plan should provide a clear framework for preventing adverse environmental impacts arising from the creation of new trails, and the introduction of new recreational activities and visitor services. The draft plan presents the park as a “true ‘People’s Park,’”and accordingly aims to increase the number of welcome areas, visitor services (equipment rentals, concession stands) and types of visitor experiences. Insufficient attention is paid to the risk of habitat fragmentation and adverse impacts arising from over-use.

Please join Ontario Nature in asking for improvements in these key areas. Rouge National Urban Park has the potential to protect one of the most vulnerable and ecologically diverse landscapes in the province, but only if the management plan sets clear priorities, objectives and targets consistent with that goal.

You can direct your comments to Parks Canada at: .

Please see the sample letter below to send to Parks Canada.
Dear Parks Canada,

Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the draft management plan for Rouge National Urban Park. The establishment of this park represents a tremendous opportunity to conserve biodiversity and establish an important ecological corridor between Lake Ontario and the Oak Ridges Moraine. I urge you to strengthen the plan by:

  1. Clearly prioritizing ecological integrity and biodiversity conservation in park management;
  2. Providing a more coherent management framework, with well-defined, measurable targets and set deadlines; and
  3. Providing a clearer framework for preventing adverse environmental impacts arising from the creation of new trails, and the introduction of new recreational activities and visitor services.

Parks Canada should do everything in its power to protect this richly diverse yet vulnerable landscape. Only with clear direction and priorities will it be possible to ensure that nature thrives in this heavily developed part of the province.

For more information

For a copy of Ontario Nature’s submission on the draft management plan, please contact Joshua Wise, Greenway Program Manager at: .

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This is an Ontario Nature (ON) Action Alert. For all ON action alerts please see  http://www.ontarionature.org/act/action_alerts/index.php

Have your say in protecting Ontario’s monarch butterflies

As warmer weather approaches, we – Ontario Nature Youth Council members – are anticipating the arrival of one of the most magical insects in the province, the monarch butterfly. Last year, monarchs had one of the worst years in history due to a number of factors along their extensive migration route. Unfortunately, this declining population trend may continue and 2014 could be the worst year for these butterflies yet. With the decline of monarchs, we are worried not only about losing a precious piece of biodiversity, but also about the loss of a significant pollinator.

monarch Donaldson

Monarch larva on backyard self-seeded milkweed. photo Pauline Donaldson

Please take action with Ontario Nature’s Youth Council to bring the monarch butterfly back from the brink. The provincial government is proposing to take an important step to help monarchs, and we need to show them that they have strong public support. Currently, milkweed is designated as a noxious weed in Ontario, meaning that landowners must remove this species from their properties. This designation is detrimental because milkweed is the sole host plant for monarch caterpillars. In fact, scientists now believe that the decline of monarchs is linked to the eradication of milkweed (food source for monarch larva). Fortunately, the government is proposing to remove milkweed from the noxious weed list, which will result in healthier habitats for monarchs.

Please join us and support the government’s proposal to remove milkweed from the noxious weed list. Comments on the proposal can be made through the Environmental Registry, and must be submitted by April 14th. Be sure to mention the EBR Registry number: 012-1204

Or, you can send a form letter through Ontario Nature’s website.

Please let your friends know about this opportunity to help the monarch.

By taking this step, you will be doing your part to protect a provincial treasure and ensure young people like us will have a future where monarchs thrive.

Thank you for your support.

Sincerely,

Jayden, Joyce & Sally

On behalf of the Ontario Nature Youth Council

 

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