Ecojustice goes to Court with Federal Conservative Government over Pesticide use

Toxic pesticides like chlorthal-dimethyl and trichlorfon are harmful to you and the environment. Some are known to pollute water and kill bees, birds and fish. Others are believed to trigger neurological disorders and can cause cancer in humans. Europe’s already banned them, so why are they still being used in Canada?

Because the Government of Canada refuses to eliminate them.

We’ve asked nicely. But the federal government has so far outright refused our request to initiate reviews of four toxic, harmful pesticides, and has failed to even answer the same request for 26 others. That’s why Ecojustice — on behalf of the David Suzuki Foundation, Équiterre and all Canadians — is taking the federal government to court. It’s a last resort, but a powerful course of action.

We’re making the announcement today and wanted you to be the first to know. Cases like this can take months, even years to see through.

Lara Tessaro, staff lawyer and Dr. Elaine MacDonald, senior staff scientist

Review of the Lake Simcoe Phosphorous Reduction Strategy

The Ministry of the Environment’s previously released Lake Simcoe Phosphorus Reduction Strategy acknowledges that environmental impacts of population growth currently planned in the Lake Simcoe watershed will make the achievement of the Lake Simcoe Protection Plan’s goals difficult, if not impossible. We set out this information again for club members to emphasize the importance of limiting phosphorous to the lake in future years.

The Strategy seems to work towards achieving the whole lake goal of 44 tons per year phosphorus loading down from today’s 72 tons per year. Importantly, I can see no real detailed plan in this strategy. No firm target dates of a myriad of implementation milestones to a tremendous amount of work that is needed to ensure the action of saving Lake Simcoe; really the intent of the Lake Simcoe Act.

The Provincial Growth Plan’s current population targets for the Lake Simcoe watershed are essentially why we (SLSN) are concerned the Lake Simcoe Protection Plan may fail. Given that this Strategy seems to continue to have no strong implementation actions of the aggressive form that must be done to really save Lake Simcoe, and there is no rigorous project management implementation plans.

A much more aggressive detailed implementation plan in naturalizing and Re-Wilding the entire Lake Simcoe to buffer the rivers and the Lake of phosphorus is required.

Our organization has been involved in projects of this kind in South Lake Simcoe for a number of years. As on-the-ground residents in rural and semi-urban locations, we know non-point source contributions are a major area of improvement needed for the future reduction of phosphorus in the lake. We see no evidence of urgency in implementation in this Strategy by the Province of Ontario to achieve the recommended 40% average natural cover target for the watershed, and we continue to push for full watershed naturalization to address particularly non-point source phosphorous.

We applaud the Lake Simcoe Protection Act for protecting an urbanized watershed attempted in Ontario and we applaud the province for this but need to have a much more aggressive Strategy and detailed Plan of implementation to meet the stated objectives of the Lake Simcoe Protection Plan.


Insects: Their Natural History and Diversity

A New Book by Steve Marshall, U of Guelph – 2012

Guelph entomologist Steve Marshall has published a new insect book that is so extensive, it’s being called “an insect collection between covers.”

Not only does his 700-page Insects: Their Natural History and Diversity cover just about every family of six-legged creatures in eastern North America, but it also contains never-before-seen photographs, including one taken of a species of bee fly that lays its eggs in wasp nests.

“The bee fly is one of several species discovered for the first time in Canada in the course of this project,” says Marshall, a faculty member in the Department of Environmental Biology.

The book is the first species-level guide to a vast array of insects beyond the standards of butterflies and dragonflies. It deals mostly with insects found east of the Mississippi River and north of Georgia, including the six provinces east of Manitoba. That area is home to an estimated 100,000 insect species.

“Although many new discoveries were made while writing the book, I initiated this project to provide something badly needed by naturalists and students,” says Marshall.

Great Lakes Marsh Monitoring Program (MMP): Information 2013

The 2013 Marsh Monitoring Program survey season begins in early spring (March/April) and, ideally, everyone should be registered by late February. The program can accommodate late registrations but please register as soon as you are certain that you want to participate.

Volunteers monitor close to home and can survey amphibians, birds or both depending on the skill and time availability. Materials provided instruct people of route establishment and survey techniques. Novices can readily learn to identify calling frog and toads from the materials we provide but for bird surveys we ask they you are able to identify 50 common marsh species prior to attempting the surveys. On average it takes about 10 hours a year to survey, this is split between late March and early July. But, during the first season, more time is needed as you learn the techniques and set up the route.

Each MMP survey route consist of as few as 1 or up to as many as 8, semi-circular sample stations, each with a radius of 100-metres (110 yards). Sample stations must face areas of emergent marsh vegetation – small numbers of trees or shrubs can occur within the station but more than half of the area within the semi-circle must be dominated by non-woody, emergent plants such as cattail, bulrush, reed, grasses or sedges. Both the marsh bird and amphibian surveys are conducted facing into the marsh while standing at the centre of the 200-metre (220 yard) long semi-circle. Stations are usually accessed along the edge of marshes, on a dike or trail. However, volunteers interested in monitoring a route accessible only by boat or canoe are encouraged to do so. In very large marshes, it may be possible for several different stations to be established by one or more volunteers. In smaller, or less accessible marshes, it may be feasible to establish only 1 or 2 stations.

The 2012 Marsh Monitoring Program Route Map is available online. The map is color-coded for availability. If you are interested in surveying birds look at red and purple dots; if you are interested in surveying amphibians look at red and blue dots. Green and yellow dots are not available. Our priority is to assign new volunteers to existing routes but, if there are no routes near you, volunteers can establish a new route in an appropriate marsh near when they live.

On 10 February 2012 – Bird Studies Canada, through support from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, hosted two free one-hour webinars on the volunteer-based “An Introduction to the Great Lakes Marsh Monitoring Program” (GLMMP) & “An In-depth Look at the Great Lakes Marsh Monitoring Program Field Protocol” and hopefully similar sessions will be held in March 2013. The webinars introduce attendees to the GLMMP, its goals, and its techniques and protocols. The in-depth webinar can also serve as a refresher for experienced program participants prior to the upcoming survey season.

Ask P. Harpley for further details.

2012 Durham Butterfly Count Results

Results can be viewed here in here format


Oshawa: Jerry Ball, Dennis Barry, Susan Brown, Peter Clute, Cathy Galberg, Ann Hilborn, James, Lynda, Liam & Nathan Kamstra, Carolyn King, Steve LaForest, Tom Mason, Dianne & Otto Peter, Rayfield Pye.

Sunderland: Karli Allen, Jerry Ball, Dennis Barry, Dave Bishop, Josh Blanchard, Susan Blayney, Dan Bone, Jon Boxall, Margaret Carney, Peter Clute, Alec Follett, Ann Hilborn, David Himelfarb, Jim Hopkins, Glenda Jones, James, Lynda, Nathan & Liam Kamstra, Carolyn King, Steve LaForest, Thom Lambert, Tom Mason, Les McClair, Ed Poropat, Rayfield Pye, Victoria Ridenour, Kathy Story, Norbert Woerns, Bob & Karen Yukich.

Doing Less with Less – MNR’s Fish and Wildlife Monitoring Programs, Ontario

A Special Report to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario – Submitted by Gord Miller, Environmental Commissioner of Ontario, April 24, 2007

MNR is responsible for the protection and management of animal and plant species in Ontario, including advising planners and builders of infrastructure about the habitat values of lands proposed for development. The ministry conducts population inventories of less than 10 per cent of Ontario’s mammalian species, and there is evidence of limited capacity to monitor even high priority species such as moose, black bear and white-tailed deer. MNR relies heavily on third parties for monitoring and assessment of bird populations and habitat. The ministry also has a very limited capacity to inventory and monitor sport fish species and habitats.

Selection of Vertebrate Wildlife Indicators For Monitoring Sustainable Forest Management in Ontario

Margaret A. McLaren, Ian D. Thompson, James A. Baker
The Forestry Chronicle, 1998, 74(2): 241-248, 10.5558/tfc74241-2

Part of a recently advocated method of sustainable forest development employs indicator species as fine filters to assess changes within ecosystems and landscapes. Researchers used a series of criteria based on biology, sampling methods, and legal or particular status to select vertebrate indicator species for the province of Ontario. The criteria for selection were applied in a hierarchical manner, with species ecology given primary importance, followed by sampling considerations, and status criteria. The latter represented certain societal weightings and political or featured management concerns. Species fitting the selection criteria were placed in a four-dimensional matrix (with axes: broad habitat type, age class, trophic level, and spatial scale), and species were then chosen from among the matrix cells. The exercise reduced the total vertebrate species in two forest biomes (Boreal and Great-Lakes St. Lawrence) to a relative few, from which the final choices were made primarily based on expert opinion. In Ontario, the species selected as indicators of biological diversity in the future will be used to test the underlying general hypothesis that forest management has no effect on species richness and species abundance, or the distribution of species in time and space.

This is an important and timely study with regard to preserving biodiversity in Ontario Forests with active logging as part of the management mix.


Invasive Species Centre: 2012 Strategic Plan

Source: ISC web site

Introduction and establishment of non-native or invasive species (1) continues to be a global issue. Invasive species are considered to be the greatest threat to biodiversity after habitat loss (2). Economic losses associated with invasive species are also significant – annual biological invasion costs are estimated to be $1.4 trillion globally (3) (5% of the global economy), compared to $190 billion for natural disasters.

Ontario is particularly vulnerable to the threats of invasive species for a number of reasons, including: proximity to international and domestic vessel traffic that transit the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway System (70% of all goods imported to Canada arrive in Ontario through the Great Lakes St Lawrence Seaway System); high volume of international and domestic passenger traffic through Pearson International Airport; and high rate of urban and economic development which can stress ecosystems leaving them more vulnerable to establishment of invasive species.

There is a history of invasive species outbreaks in Ontario, including: zebra mussel; sea lamprey; emerald ash borer; garlic mustard; and gypsy moth. In 2002-03, the rapid spread of emerald ash borer and Asian long-horned beetle in Ontario highlighted the negative impacts of invasive species on Crown and private lands as well as within municipalities and urban forests. These outbreaks have exposed the province’s vulnerability due to lack of a coordinated response system.

Both the federal and provincial governments have responsibilities to protect Canada’s natural resources from invasive species. Through several Acts (Plant Protection Act: SC 1990; Great Lakes Fishery Convention Act: RSC 1955, and more recently, the Fisheries Act 2012) the federal government of Canada has a regulatory responsibility.

1 For the purpose of this document, the definition in the 2004 Government of Canada Invasive Alien Species Strategy for Canada is adopted: “Alien species are species of plants, animals, and micro-organisms introduced by human action outside their natural past or present distribution. Invasive alien species are those harmful alien species whose introduction or spread threatens the environment, the economy, or society, including human health. Invasive alien species can originate from other continents, neighboring countries, or from other ecosystems within Canada.”
2 Sala et al. 2000; Simberloff et al. 2005
3 Pimentel et al. 2001