National Capital Commission is deciding the future of the Ottawa Greenbelt for the next 50 years. 

The NCC is proposing 3 concepts for a future Greenbelt that add links to, but does not include or protect, the South March Highlands, Ottawa’s unique great forest (image at left shows an old growth white pine ‘elder’ found in the SMH woodland).

It is VERY important that we emphasize to the NCC that the SM Highlands MUST be included in any future Greenbelt vision.

The last public meeting has ended but you should still email the NCC: info@ncc-ccn.ca.

Here are some facts to remind them about:

Natural Heritage Value

  • In all of Ottawa only Stoney Swamp (which is much larger and already in the Greenbelt) has more total bio-diversity than the South March Highlands.  That means that the SMH the most densely bio-diverse area in Ottawa.
  • City of Ottawa studies also show that the SMH has the highest floristic diversity and coefficient of conservation in all of Ottawa.  That means that the SMH has more rare and sensitive species of plants than in any other area in Ottawa.
  • The SMH is home to 20 documented species-at-risk.  No other area in Ottawa has as many documented SAR.

Geo-Heritage Value

  • The SMH is the only part of Ottawa where the Canadian Shield is on display.  The Shield is iconic of Canada and its only expression in the Ottawa area needs to be protected by the NCC.
  • The SMH is unique in having a large Nepean Sandstone Barren on display that is almost ½ km long.  This is unique in Ottawa and dates back to the Palaeozoic Era which was about 500 million years ago.
  • The SMH is unique in having visible examples of ancient springs preserved in Palaeozoic-Era sandstone –- also known as unequivocal ‘dewatering cylinders’ which are not seen anywhere else in the National Capital Region.

 Cultural Heritage Value

  • The SMH is a forest declared Sacred by the most senior Elder of the Algonquin First Nation.  No other sacred forest is represented in the Greenbelt.
  • The SMH has at least 4 archaeological sites that date back to the stone age – about 10,000 years ago (which is 2x the age of the Pyramids or Stonehenge).  There are no Paleo-Indian historical sites in the Greenbelt.

 Protective Value

  • The SMH is home to 136 nesting bird species –- many of which also visit Shirley’s Bay (which is in the Greenbelt).  Loss of bird habitat in the SMH may impact Shirley’s Bay.
  • The SMH already has a documented and functioning eco-corridor with Shirley’s Bay.  Loss of habitat in the SMH will impact terrestrial species in Shirley’s Bay.
  • The SMH is the aquifer for North Kanata and its tributaries supply about half of the water in Shirley’s Bay wetland that does not come from the Ottawa River.  This means that loss or impaired hydrological function in the SMH will impact Shirley’s Bay ecology.

The NCC’s Mission Statement for the Greenbelt states that the Greenbelt is to be an environmental showcase that provides valued ecological and cultural resources as well as demonstrating leadership in environmental stewardship.  Yet those words are empty without including our most important ecological reservoirs such as the SMH.

The case for protecting the SMH is overwhelming – but we need your help in ensuring that the NCC hears it! It is essential that the new voice of Canadians who care about our environment is heard.

PLEASE forward this to others via links to this post, copying, email, mailing lists, Facebook pages, Twitter, Blogs, and word of mouth!

THANKS!
Paul Renaud
Coalition to Protect the South March Highlands

(More info: South March Highlands)
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PRELIMINARY LAND USE CONCEPTS FOR THE GREENBELT
Public consultation

The National Capital Commission (NCC) is in the process of reviewing its Greenbelt Master Plan, which guides the way that the Greenbelt is used, managed and protected.

Participate in the public consultation about the strategic statements and preliminary land use concepts that will guide the future of the Greenbelt until 2060.

Visit the NCC website, at canadascapital.gc.ca/greenbeltconcepts, to learn more about the strategic statements and proposed land use concepts, as well as to provide your comments (by June 24, 2011).

 info@ncc-ccn.ca

We’d like to hear from you!