By Nick Longo
I remember waking up and going to my basement and seeing frogs on the floor. They came in through the cracks that were in the window wells. Our house was perched practically on top of a gully. It was these peculiar fascinations that turned up from time to time that introduced and intrigued me with nature.
I went back to my childhood home for a visit. The gully was no longer there. The frogs were long gone. The snakes, birds and butterflies of my youth disappeared, moved on by land development.
According to the World Wildlife Organization on average, we’ve seen a 60% decline in the size of populations in mammals, birds, fish, reptiles and amphibians in the past 40 years. We know who to point our fingers at for this threat to these creatures and sensitive habitats (forests, rivers oceans marshes and climate changes) and the answer is us. Human activities are the main culprit for these events. We as a society contribute to habitat loss, excessive use of wildlife such as over-fishing, over-hunting, and deforestation.
It appears that there is little time to re-think and change society’s destructive egocentric thinking and change our thinking to more ecocentric motivations in our daily lives.
Once Vancouver Island had its own genus of wolverines running around in the higher elevation tree-lines. The last reported sighting of one was in 2008. Their habitat destroyed by human “progress”.
If you want an in-depth look at what is endangered on the Island, there is an interactive map (google: CDC iMap) on the BC Conservation Data Centre website.
For instance I found that Great Blue Herons habitat around Walker and Cook Roads is at risk and they are a red list endangered species.
Above Holland Creek are Northern Goshawk nests. The loss of their natural Terrestrial Forest Needleleaf habitat environment has contributed to the decline of their species and has put them on the red list.
Vesper Sparrows are also dwindling due to habitat loss and domestic house cat predication.
Northern Red Legged Frogs are also on the red list. They have been sighted in the Haslam Creek area and live in a creek and broadleaf tree environments.
Other at risk and endangered species in the area are Grand Fir, Oregon Grape, Western Red Cedar, Common Snowberry, Red Alder, Salmonberry, Common Horsetail, Slough Sledge, and Slimleaf Onion to name just a few.
It is well worth the time spent to see what we are losing all around us. Perhaps by having access to this information, we can start doing small things to help nature reclaim and heal some of the harm we have caused her.
The Purple Martins were down to five pairs in 1990 and through the efforts of the Ladysmith Marine Society and the BC Purple Martin Stewardship and Recovery Program there are over 1,100 nesting pairs as of a 2016 count. They went from a red list endangered species to a blue list endangered species. Where there is will, we can turn things around. It could be in our own self-interest to do so.
“Globally, nature provides services worth around $125 trillion a year, while also helping ensure the supply of fresh air, clean water, food, energy, medicines, and much more.” – World Wildlife Organization.
Nursery trees provide wildlife habitat. Photo: Aubrey Sharp