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East York people, places, events & insights

SEEING GREEN 029: Loving our ravines —to death

Seeing GreenWhile many East Yorkers are sensitive to our natural environment and want to protect it, all too often I see the opposite.

I hear people say “I love the ravines, I want to bring in more people so they will love the ravines also;” or “I want to use the ravines to promote my business (tourism, photography, art work, refreshment, souvenir sales)” or “More people loving the ravines will be more people protecting them” or “We need more access points, more trails, more washrooms, for what is the use of nature if we can’t get into every part of it?”

But the ravines, and our environmentally significant areas within them, are dying —species are being lost; slopes are eroding; invasive species of fauna and flora are spreading; nesting is being disturbed; ground is being compacted; branches and logs are being moved; streams are filled with eroding soil, trees, dogs and kids; sensitive sites for rare plants are trampled, fragmented and are disintegrating; wildlife habitats and corridors are being severed; insects, pollinators, waterfowl and birds are leaving or dying; ecosystems are being degraded.

View of Crothers Woods from Leaside Bridge that appears in the new book “Toronto’s Ravines and Urban Forests”. -Jason Ramsay-Brown

View of Crothers Woods from Leaside Bridge that appears in the book “Toronto’s Ravines and Urban Forests”. -Jason Ramsay-Brown

The point is that the human species depends on other species —a full range of biodiversity and healthy ecosytems— for its survival.  We are a part of nature, not its owner; when it is gone we will be gone.  We can’t survive in a world with plastic grass, artificial trees and plants, concrete and asphalt.  This is the message that is not getting across to the users of our ravines.

The mountain bikers don’t get it; the tepee builders don’t get it, the garbage dumpers don’t get it; the dog owners don’t get it; the iPod users and radio blasters don’t get it; the flower pickers don’t get it; the pilferers of shrubs, plants and trees don’t get it; the picnickers and bus loads of tourists don’t get it; the lawn mowers don’t get it; the stunt performers and adventurers don’t get it; the artists and graffiti painters don’t get it; the litterers don’t get it; the vandalizers of trees don’t get it; the duck feeders don’t get it; the motor bikers don’t get it; the roller bladers don’t get it; the entrepreneurs and marketers don’t get it.

Hopefully the Mayor and City Council does get it.  I look forward to seeing the city join the efforts to protect the ecological integrity of the ravines in adopting that as part of the goals of its new Ravine Strategy that is to be voted on in July.

Hey Listen Up!