Morgan’s Grant hydro corridor: vacant land or abundant potential for nature and community?

A meadow’s sunset within Collingwood, Ontario. Courtesy of Hillary Hale
A meadow’s sunset within Collingwood, Ontario. Courtesy of Hillary Hale.

 

 

 

 

 

By Hillary Hale, Carleton University

[Hillary Hale was a student in the 2018 Environmental Science group research project course at Carleton University. Her group’s project was Pollinators in an Urban Meadow, which studied the Morgan’s Grant hydro corridor in partnership with Briarbrook Brookside and Morgan’s Grant Community Association. This is her blog from the project.]

I spent a pleasant afternoon visiting the Morgan’s Grant hydro corridor last Autumn and observed a variety of interactions between nature and humans. What I noticed as I walked along the corridor highlighted its potential. The corridor could very well blossom into a beautifully vibrant area where nature and community flourish.

A swallowtail butterfly (pollinator) resting in a Barrie, Ontario meadow. Courtesy of Hillary Hale.
A swallowtail butterfly (pollinator) resting in a Barrie, Ontario meadow. Courtesy of Hillary Hale.

As I walked down the path surrounded by fluttering butterflies, I observed many insects flying from flower to flower pollinating plants, and at times, it felt magical. I also witnessed the joy of others. The laugher shared between a father and son riding their bikes along the pathway, families walking their dogs, even observing the contentment on one’s face while taking a stroll. All of these observations illustrated the innate desire for pollinators and people to use the area. But how could the space be improved, and would the benefits be fruitful?

A Key Aspect to Improvement? Pollinators.

To enhance ecosystem health pollinators are key, yet pollinators depend on flowering plants. By having a variety of pollinator friendly flowers, ecosystem diversity and colour are enriched (United States Department of Agriculture, no date). This creates an enticing community space as research on urban meadows shows people prefer colourful areas containing many flowering plant species (Hoyle, 2017).

Pollinators assist in plant reproduction by fertilizing plants (Canada Agriculture and Food Museum, 2015), and we humans rely heavily on them. Globally, 217 billion dollars is generated from pollinators representing one-third of food consumed (Pollinator Partnership, 2018). Urbanization, habitat loss and pesticide are a threat to pollinators worldwide (United States Department of Agriculture, no date). The hydro corridor could be a haven for pollinators. We can develop this ecosystem to combat the decline of pollinators locally while also developing our community.

A healthy ecosystem, a healthy community

A pollinating bumblebee. Courtesy of Hillary Hale
A pollinating bumblebee. Courtesy of Hillary Hale.

Nature is beautiful and the studies show that health benefits include reduced stress, psychological wellbeing and reconnection with ourselves and others (University of Minnesota, 2016). Pollinators may not be the only ones benefitting from a rich ecosystem, our health and community would too. Research shows that green spaces provide neighbourhoods with a sense of community, acting as gathering place and fostering social interactions, improved well-being and increased safety (Landscape Ontario, no date). We can further community engagement locally building on, for example, the community gardens.

The community gardens hold abundant potential of engagement through group gardening, a potential farmer’s market, and learning opportunities – especially for youth (Landscape Ontario, no date). The corridor represents a multidimensional space budding with potential. If we provide pollinators with the right plants to enhance their ecosystem, we can also enhance our community. Two goals which benefit nature’s well-being, as well as our own.

Community garden within Morgan’s Grant hydro corridor. Courtesy of Hillary Hale
Community garden within Morgan’s Grant hydro corridor. Courtesy of Hillary Hale

References

The Canada Agriculture and Food Museum provides a quick and light interactive webpage which provides a high-level overview of bee pollination including diagrams and other informative photos.

Canada Agriculture and Food Museum. (2015) Pollination: The importance of bees: pollinationCanadian Agriculture and Food Museum. Accessed: October 29, 2018.

This policy includes a detailed fact sheet regarding how urban meadows affect people and wildlife. The information presented is organized and concise which promptly equips readers with important information and resources.

Hoyle, H. (2016) Improving urban grassland for people and wildlifeUniversity of Sheffield Departments of Landscape and Animal and Plant Science: Living with Environmental Change. Accessed: October 29, 2018.

The Landscape Ontario webpage contains information regarding the social benefits of green spaces with sources provided. It is a quick way to understand and gather the social benefits of green spaces.

Landscape Ontario. (No date) The Social Benefits of Green Spaces. Landscape Ontario. Accessed: October 29, 2018.

Pollinator Partnership provides the breakdown of the pollination process including what pollination is, its importance, who and what are pollinators, as well as approaches to help pollination. The webpage is very rich in additional sources which allow audiences to continue their learning about pollination.

Pollinator Partnership. (2018) Pollinators need you. You need pollinators.Pollinator Partnership.  Accessed: October 29, 2018.

Although this webpage is targeted toward pollinators within Pennsylvania, the materials presented are still very informative and transferable. This resource also provides tips for maintaining a pollinator friendly area and links that pertain to pollination, conservation and additional readings.

United States Department of Agriculture. (No date) The importance of pollinatorsUnited States Department of Agriculture: Natural Resources Conservation Service Pennsylvania. Accessed: October 29, 2018.

A detailed overview of the various ways in which nature affects our wellbeing. Links to additional resources are provided within.

University of Minnesota. (2016) How does nature impact our wellbeing? University of Minnesota: Taking Charge of your Health & Wellbeing.  Accessed: October 29, 2018.

Additional Reading

A publically available research paper that discusses the benefits associated with green spaces, such as health and well-being. The paper is interesting and detailed.

Braubach, M., A. Egorov, P. Mudu, T. Wolf, C.W. Thompson, and M. Martuzzi. (2017) Effects of Urban Green Space on Environmental Heath, Equity and Resilience. Nature-Base Solutions to Climate Change Adaption in Urban Areas. 187-205. Accessed: October 29, 2018.

The research described by Chee Keng Lee et al.includes a detailed breakdown of how urban green spaces promote various health benefits. This research paper is publically accessible.

Chee Keng Lee, A.H., H.C Jordan, and J. Horsley. (2015) Value of Urban Green Spaces in Promoting Healthy Living and Wellbeing: Prospects for PlanningRisk Management Healthcare Policy. 8: 131-137. Accessed: October 29, 2018.

The Forest Research article is an informative and digestible read which discusses the habitats of wildflower meadows, their advantages and case studies.

Forest Research. (No date) Wildflower Meadow Habitats. Forest Research.  Accessed: October 29, 2018.

Huerta (2017) compares and contrasts lawns and meadows and explains the benefits meadows in enhancing biodiversity, soil productivity and supporting pollinators.

Huerta, H. (2017). Meadowscaping – Benefits Above and Below the SurfaceBenton Soil and Water Conservation District. Accessed: October 29, 2018.

Roadside Wildflower Meadowsis a publically available research paper which discusses the various aspects of roadside wildflower meadows including ecological, economic, and aesthetic benefits. It provides insights with respect to the importance and benefits of incorporating more wildflowers within an urban meadow.

Jack, A., C.A. Niedner, and A. Barker. (No date) Roadside Wildflower Meadows: Summary of Benefits and Guidelines to Successful Establishment and Management. Transportation Research Record. 1334: 46-53. Accessed: October 29, 2018.