Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Bat Research

Found this on the North American Society for Bat Research Webpage:

Toronto's world famous Royal Ontario Museum (the ROM) was the location of the 2011 NASBR Teacher's Workshop in association with the annual meeting. Never before have we had such a visually stimulating site for this important event. Burton Lim and Judith Eger, NASBR members and scientific researchers, are both employed at the ROM and made all arrangements to accommodate 35 teachers for the 6-hour workshop.
Presentations were given on the ROM bat exhibits, Ontario bats and their biology, live bat demonstrations, an identification key exercise using museum study skins, and classroom activities using "Year of the Bat" education resources. This year's faculty included: Burton Lim, Judith Eger and Dave Ireland from the ROM; Erin Fraser, University of Western Ontario; Paul Faure, McMaster University; Andreas Streit, UNEP/Eurobats; James Eggers, Bat Conservation International; and Jacqueline Miller, University of Toronto. While faculty and teacher participants enjoyed a lovely private lunch at the ROM, they were treated to a book reading and signing, Burton & Isabelle Pipistrelle: Out of the Bat Cave, presented by the author and artist.

Images from NASBR website

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Placemaking - the value of green urban areas (Ottawa)

The Power of a Small Green Place

- A Case Study of Ottawa's Fletcher Wildlife Garden by Renate Sander-Regier

Abstract: The Power of a Small Green Place is an ethnographic case study among the volunteers and urban wilds of Ottawa’s Fletcher Wildlife Garden (FWG). Through the conceptual lens of the geographical concept of place – with its wide range of physical, relational and deeper meaningful considerations – this urban wildlife habitat project emerged as a place of profound significance. Volunteers working to create and maintain the FWG’s diverse habitats benefit from opportunities to engage in physical outdoor activity, establish social connections, make contact with the natural world, find deep personal satisfaction and meaning, and experience healthier and mutually beneficial relations with nature. This case study fills a knowledge gap in geography regarding the significant relationships that can emerge between people and the land they work with, thereby contributing to geography’s “latest turn earthward” examining practices and relationships of cultivation with the land. The case study also contributes to a growing interdisciplinary dialogue on human-nature relations and their implications in the context of future environmental and societal uncertainties.

The full thesis can be read here:  Ottawa University Thesis: Fletcher Garden, Renate Regier. 


Speaking about Fletcher Wildlife Garden - there has also been a great recent blog post and video - check it out here on Housecraft.

Monday, September 9, 2013

NYC Street Tree Inventory (New York City)

We learned about this project, which was done in 2005-2006 in class. To do this tree census almost 1000 volunteers, logging over 30,000 volunteer hours over 2 summers inventoried 592,130 trees.  They were given 3 hour orientation training and field guides to help and then city field staff were available for follow up by  responding through telephone hotlines and e-mails to address questions.

Staff would verify inconsistencies in the field after the forms were returned and reviewed.  They used paper since at the time of inventory they were the best method of collecting data despite the time required in office to transfer the data. The implementation of software was not yet at a point where it could be used effectively so data collection via paper and pencil was used and later transferred in an office

Today there is an app for that!

The tree id app, was first developed in New York City as a means for tourists and interested residents to walk up to any New York City Street Tree, enter the GPS co-ordinates or ID tag into a smart phone and the information about the tree could be accessed

The response for a tree ID phone app was so high, Leafsnap was born!

 It currently contains an ID database of New York City, Washington DC and a partial list of all trees in Northeastern America, in process of completion

Information from:

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Rockcliffe Lands Redevelopment (Part 3)

How can the Rockcliffe Lands Redevelopment site become the FIRST BIOPHILIC REDEVELOPMENT in CANADA??  This is the second part in a series of how best to redevelop Rockcliffe Lands to create a ecologically sound development that considers the flora and fauna surrounding and within it.


The proposed blue landscaping sounds wonderful: small rain gardens, recharging water table through naturalized low-lying areas, storm water both on and off site, etc.  These ideas need to be kept on the proposal at all costs, no matter how tough the priority setting is.  By managing water in the most natural way and working with the landscaping this will allow savings and avert potential crisis in the future.  Imagine having bioswales between houses along some of the higher elevated lands?  A natural feature like this would be a boon to housing values.  In the Lashley + Associates example this equates to just a three metre easement between the houses. 

One possibility that hasn't been proposed is the opportunity to build Ottawa's first constructed wetland for sewage.  I was on a campus in Lindsay Ontario for two years that housed its own constructed wetland and there were none of the issues that you may associate with a sewage facility including odours, insects and/or overflows.  It could be well designed like this bioretention facility in Portland or this constructed wetland in Washington D.C..  With an internationally recognized research institute (the Centre for Alternative Wastewater Treatment) only three hours away from Ottawa, it would be a waste to lose an opportunity like this to test urban applications of these wetlands.  And a wetland like this would help ensure that this property becomes a truly biophilic development.


In the last post I discussed some opportunities in terms of wood lots on the site (and adjacent to the site) but I would like to propose more in this post.  I've mentioned before the benefits of having a 10-hectare wood lot and that Ottawa needs to protect what they have and consider more.  There is a great opportunity here to create a larger forest that combines the Montfort Woods with some of the south-west corner of the Rockcliffe Lands.  Presently Montfort Woods is only 9 acres (3.5 hectares) which could easily be expanded into the new development to create a 10 hectare plot.  This would equate to only 5% of the Rockcliffe Lands - perhaps it could be designed to accommodate this - a bit denser housing and more green space left intact?

Yes these N.C.C. woods presently are not that ecologically sound with periwinkle invading in many corners but these woods are worth saving.  The Montfort Woods was declared an environmentally sensitive area in 2004, which ensures that this property will not be developed.  The Rockcliffe Lands redevelopment project has already proposed some buffering around this woods so that there isn't an abrubpt change from woods to backyard lawns.  This type of transition zone, such as a shrub border, would help safeguard its ecological integrity.  Once the development has been built and there are local citizens who can get involved, the neighborhood could consider public education regarding these non-native forest flora invaders and "No Dumping Garden Waste" signs along the border of the woods.  Rockcliffe Lands could even partner with the N.C.C. to run a program like Edmonton's Master Naturalists to help protect the local  wood lots and the surrounding corridors.


Another great consideration that has been proposed is keeping as much of the natural elevation as possible.  This land sits above the Ottawa River with some great viewsheds and some rock outcroppings and it is a wonderful idea to recognize the landscape and terrain as a important feature to retain.  The best way to recognize and work with these natural features is to landscape them or wildscape them as naturally as possible using native plants.  Xeriscaping (designing a garden with plants that are drought-tolerant) would be an ideal way of having municipal landscaping that was low-maintenance.  Some areas could be naturalized and left unmowed to provide natural habitat for various fauna including bees and birds.  Some hedge borders in less accessible areas and around the north and western edges of the redevelopment would also provide habitat and/or food (such as berries) and wildlife corridors that would link various green spaces.

All in all, what has already been proposed is a great start and those behind the plan have a keen eye for the natural assets that the Rockcliffe Lands have to offer.  Let's hope that they continue to see the benefits and that the community backs them up!

If you still want to send your thoughts and comments to Canada Lands Company it is not too late. You can find their contact information on the Canada Lands Company Rockcliffe Lands website (, I did not find an email address for the Ottawa office however.

Rockcliffe Lands Redevelopment (Part 4) - October 2013

All details about this Redevelopment Project can be found here:

Posts on Rockcliffe Lands Redevelopment:

First blog post: September 2011

Rockcliffe Lands Redevelopment (Part 1): November 2012

Rockcliffe Lands Redevelopment (Part 2): April 2013

Rockcliffe Lands Redevelopment (Part 4): October 2013

Rockcliffe Lands Redevelopment (Part 5): November 2013