Birdsong is silenced when natural habitats disappear.
Warning: this is a rant!
This year, there will be fewer nests in our neighbourhood. Birds returning to the area will find mud, tree stumps, and bulldozed land.
Their home is no longer.
Their song will be silenced because there is nowhere for birds to nest.
When natural habitats are destroyed...
In our small city in eastern Ontario, forests and natural habitats for birds and small mammals are indiscriminately destroyed to make way for new housing.
Huge swaths of land are being deforested in several sectors before the city even has specific bylaws that will spell out how builders are to replace urban canopies and preserve mature trees.
In an age when we are more than ever aware of climate change, the benefits of protecting wooded areas within city limits, the advantages of preserving mature trees are many:
- reduce storm water run-off,
- remove street level air pollution,
- provide habitat for pollinators and a range of birds that feed on insects
- alleviate heat stress in our community among so many other benefits some less quantifiable than those listed.
Where are the bylaws?
Last year, one of our favourite tree-lined local biking and walking paths (only 5 minutes away) was forever changed. Our small but growing city indiscriminately allowed a builder to cut down the wooded area along the path all in the name of progress.
This is only one of several areas being entirely clear cut to allow for new housing. There were no bylaws at the time (fall 2022) to spell out any type of restitution going forward.
The forest was a habitat for many birds and other small mammals. More importantly perhaps, the forest canopy cooled the pathway and nearby homes by providing much needed shade on sweltering hot summer days. (our home does not border this path).
No one can stop progress. I get that. And many Ontario cities do have bylaws that protect already established mature trees in addition to providing guidelines for builders of large subdivisions.
When a community as ours is growing by leaps and bounds, it’s crucial to have that proverbial horse tied in front of the cart, not the other way around.
Careful urban planning looks to the future and imagines a city where a healthy and lush mature tree canopy is preserved for future generations.
Good timber does not grow with ease,
The stronger wind, the stronger trees,
The further sky, the greater length,
By sun and cold, by rain and snow,
In trees and men good timbers grow.
Where thickest lies the forest growth
We find the patriarchs of both.
And they hold counsel with the stars
Whose broken branches show the scars
Of many winds and much of strife.
This is the common law of life.
Good Timber by Douglas Malloch, American poet, 1877-1938.