Biodiversity is the variety of life including all the native plant and animals that live in our city’s land, water, air, and soil. These species can be full time residents like Beavers or species that stay for only a part of the season such as Great Blue Herons. Biodiversity numbers in the thousands of species, including the insects and the soil micro and macro- organisms. Different combinations of land (hills, slopes and flats) and water (river, creeks and ponds) contribute to biodiversity by providing diverse habitats and sites for plants and animals to call home. In nature all life is connected in various ways like the food web. In addition, we have genetic biodiversity which is the genetic make-up of a particular species and the genetic variations within a single species. This allows a species to survive and thrive.
Scenic Views are made up of these species, landscape, and genetic diversity. Biodiversity is an important factor in choosing the nature we want to participate in and enjoy. Mountain bikers may choose a variety of hilly trails to ride through, while a birder wishing to spot a Bald Eagle may visit habitats along the South Saskatchewan River. We also like the variety offered by nature. There is value in nature. On any given day, people can enjoy different recreation uses across the City like in Ranchlands, Saratoga Park, McCutcheon, or Echo Dale to Campground Scenic Views. We may be relaxing and reading on a bench at Police Point Park, ice fishing at Connaught Pond, or jogging on the trails of Scholten Hill.
Unfortunately, biodiversity is sensitive to human caused disturbances like pollution, soil erosion, and invasive species. These disturbances can negatively impact biodiversity and cause a shift towards oneness. In time if these disturbances have not been controlled and managed, our recreation enjoyment can be altered and reduced in undesirable ways including reduced natural recreation choices and increased maintenance costs. For example, negative impacts can happen when we unknowingly create our own trails off the City’s designated trails. In time, as these off trails become well-used and wider, they will often look like a spider web. These web-like disturbances remove the vegetation cover and expose top soil to wind and water erosion. Disturbed areas are also open to the establishment and spread of invasive species. On a larger scale, such human caused disturbance can lead to loss of habitat for native plants and wildlife species, which is very costly to biodiversity.
To support a healthy environment and continue to enjoy and benefit from outdoor recreation, we must prevent human caused disturbances to nature. In the next section we will talk about Stewardship and stewardship actions. They are: Responsible, Affordable, and everyone can Participate in doing. Enjoy nature and support Biodiversity.