Biodiversity

Written by Denise Deby.

School garden and seed saving - D. Deby

Ottawa is rich in biodiversity–the variety of life that surrounds and sustains us. It’s not something we can take for granted; as everywhere, human activity often adversely affects species and their habitats.

The International Day for Biological Diversity on May 22 is a reminder that we humans need to honour and extend our commitments to the genetic, species and ecosystem diversity that enables us and everything else to survive.

Here are a few interesting local takes on biodiversity and the international day:

– This year, May 22 is also School Garden Day. What better way to celebrate and strengthen biodiversity than by helping kids understand what growing local, healthy food and native plants in their neighbourhoods is all about? Imagine a Garden in Every School and USC Canada are inviting school communities to hold activities in and around their gardens. (For tips on setting up school gardens, check here or here.)

– For USC Canada, protecting biodiversity means protecting seed diversity. The Ottawa-based organization explains that in the last 100 years, with industrialized and large-scale agriculture, global seed diversity has declined by 75 per cent. Ninety per cent of fruit and vegetable varieties in North America are gone, and three companies control 53 per cent of the global commercial seed market. This loss of diversity is bad news for the environment, our food system and our health.

How to increase food security through biodiversity? Buy food that’s local, fresh and sustainably produced whenever possible. Check out USC Canada’s seed diversity work and their I am a seed saver” initiative. Support their Run for Biodiversity during Ottawa Race Weekend May 23-24.

– The Canadian Museum of Nature is marking International Biodiversity Day by lighting its tower up in green on May 21 and 22. At a special event, Science by Night, on Thursday, May 21, people can visit the museum for free, speak with scientists and take part in activities. On Friday evening, May 22, there’s a Nature Nocturne dance party at the museum celebrating all the colours of nature.

– The State of Ontario’s Biodiversity Report 2015 will be released at the first-ever Ontario Biodiversity Summit happening May 19-22 in Niagara Falls. It will outline how biodiversity has changed in the last five years, and what needs to be done.

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