Exploring downtown biodiversity

Exploring Gatineau ParkWe like to be outside.

I descended from a family of hunters and fishermen and the man comes from a family of outdoor sports enthusiasts and scientists.  The little one is happiest when she’s outside, loves to get dirty and is really becoming interested in the natural world and consumed by curiosity.

Encouraging a connection to and love of nature in our daughter is a priority for the man and me.

In our backyard we can find bees, flies, mosquitoes, worms, vegetable plants, flowers and a few birds. I’ve also been known to run around in my pyjamas chasing away raccoons with a hula hoop and the squirrels are the bane of the man’s existence when it comes to the garden.

Despite these wild encounters, the words downtown and biodiversity don’t usually go hand in hand.

But that’s one of the great things about Ottawa and part of what keeps us in the nation’s capital. Gatineau Park is just a short drive away and two rivers run through the city centre. Canoe trips and camping, along with frog catching, caterpillar collecting and turtle watching, can easily be a part of downtown living.

And, as I learned last week, the rivers and Park aren’t the only options for connecting with nature…

Did you know that there is a protected urban wetland in Ottawa?

The man accompanied little one’s preschool class on a field trip to the Macoun Marsh last week and had an awesome time. A few days later he attended a bat-tagging excursion at the marsh and he can’t wait to spend more time exploring the area’s rich biodiversity. I had to miss the field trip but am looking forward to checking this place out soon.

The marsh is located in the southeast corner of the Beechwood Cemetery. In 2003, Mr. Michael Léveillé, now an awesome science teacher at St. Laurent Academy, worked with a group of his students and The Beechwood Cemetery Foundation to preserve this natural habitat and have it declared an environmentally sensitive area. The place now has an outdoor classroom and the Macoun Marsh Project has identified over 1,300 species of wildlife!

Anyone can visit the marsh, which is a great place for a picnic, photography or a game of Eye Spy.

For more information about the Macoun Marsh visit Biodiversity Matters or the Beechwood Cemetery.

If you’re in to this sort of thing, there are a couple other cool places to explore plants and wildlife in urban Ottawa…Once you’re done at the marsh, check out the walking paths around McKay Lake and the Pond or the Fletcher Wildlife Garden.

  1 comment for “Exploring downtown biodiversity

  1. June 8 at 7:29 pm

    I will have to check out Macoun Marsh – have never been! One of my favourite things about Ottawa is the varied and nearby opportunities to explore nature. Good info in this post!

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