Niagara Escarpment Biosphere Reserve, ON (Episode 8): Striking Balance Series 2
Catalogue Number: LIV039
Producer: Striking Balance Inc.
Subject: Canadian Geography, Documentary, Environmental Justice, Environmental Studies, Geography, Indigenous Issues, Nature, Physical Geography, Science
Grade Level: 6 - 8, 9 - 12, Post Secondary
Country Of Origin: Canada
Copyright Year: 2020
Running Time: 50:00
In Ontario’s Niagara Escarpment Biosphere Reserve, scientists, climbers and even quarry companies come up with innovative ways to co-exist with and restore the natural world and a create a sustainable future. This 700 km. ribbon of protected nature is a refuge and natural corridor for wildlife, with a fragile balance between human development and nature. A new quarry in Milton led to the establishment of The Niagara Escarpment Commission in 1973. They created an innovative land management plan which designated protected zones, and zones allowing various intensities of compatible development.
Biologists are working towards population recovery of endangered species such as the Jefferson salamander. Part of King Road in Burlington is closed each spring to reduce the mortality of salamanders heading to their birthplace vernal pools. Thousand-year-old cedars, including Canada’s oldest living trees, grow very slowly on the harsh escarpment ledges. Park managers protect the integrity of the cliff face, but vegetation is being damaged by increased rock climbing. Finding the right balance between recreation and protection is a challenge. The Nature Conservancy of Canada and local conservation groups work on environmental protection and rehabilitation along the Escarpment.
Aggregate extraction is the greatest threat to Escarpment. It is the GTA’s closest source for building materials, and the challenge is to make quarrying compatible with the ecosystem. In Milton, a company has developed a groundwater recharge system that protects the vernal pools vital to the Jefferson salamander. All companies must rehabilitate their quarry sites when extraction ends, replanting vegetation and rebuilding aquatic ecosystems. Environmental activists like musician Sarah Harmer remind us that we respect the environment and balance ecosystem management with limiting human activity.