Thu. Feb 29th, 2024

Today’s post comes from Natural Heritage Education Leader David Bree at Presqu’ile Provincial Park.

“EI” is a term we use a lot at Ontario Parks.

EI stands for ecological integrity, or the biodiversity and naturalness of an ecosystem. Protecting and restoring the ecological integrity of our provincial parks is of vital importance to us.

2018 marks the 125th anniversary of Ontario Parks. To help celebrate this milestone, the public will be invited to contribute, learn and participate in a series of stewardship programs to help protect biodiversity in provincial parks. Stewardship programs include BioBlitz events, invasive species removal, and native species planting, to name a few.

In Presqu’ile Provincial Park, our money went toward the removal of a nasty invasive species: buckthorn.

Protecting our environment

Hiking the Marsh Boardwalk Trail with a Dog

Ecological integrity is one of the cornerstones of park system management.

In reality, it simply means that we try to keep natural ecological processes running with as little human impact as possible. Additionally, we will improve and fix habitats that have been destroyed by human influence in the past.

While this may seem grand, an ecological integrity project can be very simple and something anyone can do.

For example, here at Presqu’ile we received $2,000 to spend on our Buckthorn removal project.

What is sea buckthorn?

Buckthorn removal

Buckthorn is one of the many non-native invasive species found in our park.

Sea buckthorn is a problem as it grows thickly and smothers other plants, degrading our overall biodiversity.

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Buckthorn is a tenacious enemy. Removing it requires cutting it, removing the multiple stems and having authorized personnel carefully apply an herbicide to the stumps to prevent them from resprouting.

Buckthorn removal is just one of the many green projects we have in the park. We are addressing it on an ongoing basis, with the help of our community partners.

Most notable are the Friends of Presqu’ile Park, who have sponsored a fall tree planting and invasive plant removal project for several years. The Friends’ funding goes towards expanding our seasonal biodiversity staff, who tackle this important work alongside a number of volunteers.

Put EI into action

Walking stick with buckthorn carrying

When we received news of our $2,000 award in mid-November 2017, our seasonal buckthorn removal project was underway.

It seemed natural to use the award to extend our three employees who were already working an extra week to continue working on that Buckthorn.

The call was made to our various volunteers. Would you mind braving another week of cold November weather?

The answer? Of course! With everyone on board, we could tackle many more Buckthorns.

Keeping Presqu’ile Naturally Beautiful

Relax on the beach

Presqu’ile will be a little healthier thanks to our 125 EI grant.

But the work continues and we will be back on several ecological integrity projects throughout 2018.

If you’re interested in lending a hand, check out the website cited above. Or email [email protected] and ask about upcoming volunteer opportunities.

Other OP125 administration programs

Stay tuned for more stewardship program dates later this spring.

Visit our OP125 events page for more information.

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To help celebrate the 125th anniversary of Ontario Parks, parks across the province are hosting 13 stewardship programs to help protect biodiversity in provincial parks.