OMB Hears from Conservation Biology Expert at Nelson Quarry Hearing: Dr. Reed Noss Leader in Oak Ridges Moraine Fight and Greenbelt Creation
Burlington, ON—Dr. Reed Noss, the past President of the Society for Conservation Biology and world leading author on the science and planning of wildlife corridors, testified on October 18, 2011 that the Niagara Escarpment is globally significant and expressed concerns that development is significantly fragmenting its landscape, including the Mount Nemo area.
The proposed Nelson Aggregates Inc. 43 hectare, 23-million tonne quarry in Burlington is opposed by Environmental Defence and Protecting Escarpment Rural Land (“PERL”).
“Of all the Biosphere Reserves I’ve spent time in, the Niagara Escarpment is the most modified, which is why I’m concerned that we’re reaching or have reached a threshold that jeopardizes the species that require sufficient connectivity across the Mount Nemo Plateau,” Noss testified.
Noss said he was “disappointed” in UNESCO for not working closer with the Niagara Escarpment Commission (NEC) to better identify necessary protection areas like conservation “core” areas, connection corridors, buffers and vital life-giving water supplies.
“What a great day it was for the Escarpment to hear from the professor that helped save the Oak Ridges Moraine that it’s time to save Mount Nemo, before it’s too late,” said Dr. Rick Smith, Executive Director, Environmental Defence.
 
“Whether it’s former Premier Bill Davis or Dr. Noss, there’s a growing consensus that the Niagara Escarpment Plan is long overdue for a serious update to bring it in line with current ecological thinking,” said Sarah Harmer, co-founder of PERL.
According to Noss, southern Ontario is “topographically challenged,” meaning relatively flat, which limits the biodiversity of species that occur. The Escarpment, its cliff faces, wetlands, and forests gives species an advantage to adapt to climate change. In other words, the Niagara Escarpment offers an opportunity for a climate corridor.
Noss was critical of the Nelson Aggregate ecological assessment for not being adequate, which included “numerous uncertainties,” and for not using proper scientific methodologies. He also stated that the Nelson Aggregate Adaptive Management Plan (AMP) does not follow standard protocols for an AMP.
Dr. Noss is not alone in this opinion. The expert planning and biology staff members from Conservation Halton, Region of Halton and the City of Burlington have all expressed serious concerns relating to the loss of provincially significant wetlands and significant woodlands; species at risk including the Jefferson Salamander, the Butternut and the Bobolink; changes in flow contribution to downstream watercourses and associated impacts on fisheries; uncertainty relating to assurance of long term flow contribution to the downstream watercourses; protection of private wells; the adequacy of the AMPs; and issues related to climate change and the rehabilitation plan.
 
ABOUT ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENCE (www.environmentaldefence.ca):  We are Canada’s most effective environmental action organization. We challenge, and inspire change in government, business and people to ensure a greener, healthier and prosperous life for all.
ABOUT PERL:  Protecting Escarpment Rural Land is involved in a number of initiatives to help protect the Niagara Escarpment for future generations.  PERL retained Order of Canada architect Douglas Cardinal to help it devise a “Vision for Mount Nemo” that would allow Nemo’s industrial past to be transformed into a sustainable, ecological future.
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For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact:
Stephanie Kohls, Environmental Defence, 416-323-9521 ext. 232; 647-280-9521 (cell), skohls@environmentaldefence.ca