Ur­ban Wildlife

A clever web­site brings Mon­treal’s di­verse eco-projects to­gether for ev­ery­one to see. It makes it easy for cit­i­zens to get in­volved

Canadian Wildlife - - CONTENTS - By Matthew Church

A clever web­site brings Mon­treal’s di­verse eco-projects to­gether for ev­ery­one to see, mak­ing it easy for cit­i­zens to get in­volved

There is plenty of wild in the city, and that

wildlife can be nearby. It’s not just the squir­rels and rac­coons we share our streets and parks with, the but­ter­flies in the gar­den or the birds that ef­fort­lessly soar above our con­gested traf­fic. (Oh, to travel as the crow flies dur­ing rush hour.) More ex­otic crea­tures like deer, fox, coy­otes and more can also be spot­ted, merely by pay­ing at­ten­tion to aban­doned lots, road­side gul­lies and ceme­ter­ies.

No, it is not hard to find na­ture in the city. In re­al­ity, for con­ser­va­tion­ist ur­ban­ites, the greater chal­lenge in any Cana­dian city is find­ing other like-minded lovers of na­ture and wildlife. There are so many city-dwellers who are pas­sion­ate about mak­ing a dif­fer­ence — peo­ple who are get­ting out and pur­su­ing their pas­sions right there in the city. But how and where do they con­nect? How do you dis­cover the big and small con­ser­va­tion projects? How do peo­ple get in­volved?

In 2016, a Mon­treal group launched biopo­lis.ca. To­day, the web­site is, to use their words, a dy­namic “ref­er­ence tool that adapts to cur­rent is­sues and needs.” They de­fine their ob­jec­tives thusly: to con­nect ur­ban bio­di­ver­sity stake­hold­ers, to share knowl­edge and projects, and to com­mu­ni­cate, in­form and pro­mote ini­tia­tives. Work­ing from the gal­va­niz­ing prin­ci­ple that na­ture is fac­ing ex­is­ten­tial threats from the harm to habi­tat, over­ex­ploita­tion, pol­lu­tion, in­va­sive species, all oc­cur­ring un­der the fore­bod­ing re­al­ity of cli­mate change, biopo­lis.ca aims “to en­cour­age and in­spire ini­tia­tives that will ad­dress th­ese is­sues and chal­lenges.” Judg­ing by what you can find by log­ging on to their site now, they have started well.

Un­like many na­ture-ori­ented sites, the look is more ur­ban than ru­ral, sleek and mod­ern with large images and min­i­mal copy. The site is di­vided into nine sec­tions fo­cused on cen­tral top­ics geared to dif­fer­ent au­di­ences: best prac­tices and in­no­va­tion; ecosys­tem ser­vices; ed­u­ca­tion and aware­ness; green in­fra­struc­ture, habi­tats and con­nec­tiv­ity; in­va­sive alien species; soil; species di­ver­sity and con­ser­va­tion; ur­ban agri­cul­ture; and wa­ter. In each sec­tion, the vis­i­tor is of­fered an in­tro­duc­tory overview of the topic and an ex­plo­ration of what it might mean in the ur­ban con­text.

It doesn’t stop there. What fol­lows is in­spir­ing. Un­der each head­ing, the web­site of­fers a list­ing and de­scrip­tion of projects cur­rently un­der­way around the Is­land of Mon­treal. There are a lot of them, some un­der­way for some years, others brand new, each with enough in­for­ma­tion for the wannabe ac­tivist to get in­volved. For ex­am­ple, un­der green in­fra­struc­ture, you can learn about Ver­ti­cal, an in­no­va­tive rooftop project launched nine months ago ex­plor­ing food pro­duc­tion tech­nolo­gies and tech­niques. Or, un­der species di­ver­sity and con­ser­va­tion, you can learn about pro­tect­ing and sur­vey­ing com­mon tern colonies on small rocky is­lands in the St. Lawrence River, just off­shore from the Mon­treal bor­oughs of Ver­dun and Lasalle.

This sort of in­for­ma­tion for too long has been hid­ing in plain sight. The fact is that in cities across Canada, many peo­ple are un­der­tak­ing im­por­tant grass­roots projects that their fel­low trav­ellers never know about. This web­site ad­dresses that very prob­lem for Mon­treal­ers. An in­ter­ac­tive city map cat­a­logues and pro­files the projects, en­abling any­one to see what is oc­cur­ring right in their neigh­bour­hood or across town. Be­gin­ning to get in­volved then be­comes as sim­ple as walk­ing by and tak­ing a look, or just drop­ping an email to find out about the next meet­ing.

But list­ing cur­rent projects is only one ac­cess point to en­gage­ment. To en­cour­age up­take and ac­tion, biopo­lis.ca of­fers help get­ting started. There are re­sources for how to set up your com­mu­nity’s project, from aca­demic ar­ti­cles and city re­ports to plans and how-to guides. It is fa­mil­iar ma­te­rial largely, but use­ful. For those ready to com­mit, the site lobs a few key ques­tions you need to an­swer for your­self before em­bark­ing. There are also use­ful startup hacks. Equally cen­tral to the site’s rai­son d’être, when a new lo­cal group is func­tion­ing, it will reg­is­ter with biopo­lis.ca and be­come part of the city-wide web of op­por­tu­ni­ties for ac­tion.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.