Field naturalists talk about “World Heritage Sites in Canada”


The Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists were presented with a nature talk about World Heritage Sites in Canada in March. The speaker was Lynn Holden, who visited all of Canada's sites and then, to make Canadians aware of these outstanding places, wrote a book about her explorations.

The meeting began as usual with a review of nature observations led by Ken Allison. With the onset of spring, there were many reports of various plants, mammals, birds, fungi, insects, frogs and butterflies.

Lynn then attended the meeting and described how she began her unique journey in 1982. World Heritage Sites are landmarks or areas that are legally protected by an international convention of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). These sites are recognized and protected because of their cultural, historical or scientific significance and must meet strict criteria to be accepted. When Lynn published her book, there were 20 designated sites in Canada, including four in Newfoundland, three in Nova Scotia, two in Ontario, five in Alberta, one in the Yukon, one in the Northwest Territories and one in British Columbia.

Lynn began her presentation with a map showing the Canadian heritage sites she had visited. Eight of the sites are cultural sites, which Lynn defined and then listed before embarking on her visits to the geological sites. These sites exhibit significant evolutionary history, ongoing geologic processes, and contain threatened species. She showed beautiful photos she took of the various locations as she traveled across the country from east to west. She included photos of the flora and fauna and described her adventures along the way. These included whitewater rafting, challenging hikes, and hiring guides to access remote locations. Among the many things we learned was that the site at Miguasha, Quebec, contains the best examples of Devonian period fossils in the world; The Pimachiowin Aki site is part of the largest area of ​​untouched boreal wilderness remaining on Earth. Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park is the first international dark sky park to span both sides of an international border. We also learned about the significance of various sites to the indigenous people and that the totems at Ninstints in the Sgang Gwaay site have been returned to nature and are not preserved.

Since the publication of Lynn's book, two more Canadian World Heritage sites have been added, and another is planned. Anticosti Island, Quebec, is a fossil site, while an area around Dawson City, Yukon is a cultural site. There is also a planned location in Saskatchewan. Lynn has made plans to travel to the two newer locations and then intends to reissue her book, which has sold out. Meanwhile, many viewers were inspired to visit these special places in Canada.

There will be no MVFN Nature Talk in April as we host our annual Spring Meeting with special guest Bob McDonald!

Submitted by Chris Baburek