In some cases,
conservation and restoration involves entire parks.
In Ontario’s Bruce Peninsula National Park region,
for instance, this means returning to old surveys of
the area to get a picture of what the land was like
before settlement. In the southwest part of the same
province, it has resulted in the most ambitious restoration
project that Parks Canada has ever undertaken, in Point
Pelee National Park. There, since the 1960s, the park,
a mere 15 square km, has been managed to minimize and
reverse the impact of almost nine decades of visitors
on the park's vulnerable ecosystems. Most notably, large
parking lots and private cottages have been removed,
numerous boardwalks added to prevent degradation of
species-rich wetlands, and southern flying squirrels
have made a comeback. These animals had disappeared
from the park in the 1930s because of habitat loss.
In 1993 and 1994, 99 were reintroduced, and these have
now grown to a viable population of close to 900.
Disappearing Salmon of the Inner Bay of Fundy
Rebuilding a viable species population is also the goal
of a remarkable project on the Atlantic coast focusing
on the Inner Bay of Fundy (iBoF) salmon. This fish probably
became a distinct species during the last ice age (about
10,000 years ago) and – unlike salmon born in
the rivers of the Outer Bay of Fundy and in most of
North America – it does not travel far. It winters
in the bay itself and in the nearby Gulf of Maine, then
returns to its natal river (where it was born) to spawn.
It also matures more quickly than most other salmon,
often spawning after only one winter at sea. In the
last 30 years, however, fewer and fewer iBoF salmon
have been returning, resulting in a near catastrophic
decline in their population. An estimated 40,000 existed
in 1989. Today, alarmingly, there are fewer than 200.
No explanation has yet been firmly
for this near extinction of the species, but there are
several hypotheses among the following that research
- Changes in ocean temperatures because of global
warming that have reduced the amount of food available
to the salmon, or have somehow affected their migration
- Pollution from pesticides, fertilizers, and other
- Diseases or parasites picked up from farmed fish.
- Competition from escaped farmed salmon for food.
- Interbreeding with escaped farmed salmon, which
makes the wild salmon genetically weaker and less
able to survive. (It’s estimated that farmed
fish now outnumber wild fish in the North Atlantic
by a ratio of 48:1!)
Whatever the final explanation, a National Recovery
Team is not sitting around for it.