This year, the ESRC began our Earth Day celebrations early by participating in a Bio Blitz held by the Niagara Parks Commission!
On April 21st, students from Brock University, including several ESRC graduate students, participated in a Bio Blitz event co-hosted by the Niagara Parks Commission and the Environmental Sustainability Research Centre.
A BioBlitz is an event that completes a biological survey of a specified area. On Friday, students from Brock University and the Niagara College School of Horticulture surveyed Dufferin Islands – a 10 acre stretch of small islands connected by bridges and footpaths located just a short walk from Horseshoe Falls. BioBlitz events are becoming increasingly popular, as they promote citizen science, engage the public and produce important species inventories. The goal for this event was to add to the catalogue of invasive species in Dufferin Islands using geolocation, and to help monitor biodiversity in the area. Using the catalogue, the Niagara Parks Commission Forestry team will be able to go into the area and safely remove invasive species.
The event was a major success, with many of the experts and volunteers involved sharing positive feedback about the experience. Dr. Ryan Plummer, ESRC Director, spoke highly of the partnership between the ESRC and the Niagara Parks Commission and having the ability to involve students in these initiatives, “the Excellence in Environmental Stewardship Initiative was the preeminent partnership between brock and the NPC. The importance of managing invasive species was highlighted and a comprehensive program was developed during this academic year. Having 50 students, staff and faculty join together to make it actionable was magic”.
Shannon Heaney, a current Master of Sustainability student who is conducting research about invasive species in Niagara Parks also spoke highly of the initiative as it was successful in identifying invasive species and also provided an educational experience for everyone involved. Shannon added that “continuing these events in the future will help support the success of the Invasive Species Program and will engage and educate those involved about the impact of invasive species”. Corey Burant, Project Manager for Forest Health with the Niagara Parks Commission echoed Shannon’s comments on the importance of the event, “This real-time data is critical for the ongoing management and prevention of invasive species populations within Niagara Parks. The event showed how easy and effective the iNaturalist app is to inventory invasive species, in which Niagara Parks hopes to expand across the park for all plant and animal species”.