Environmentalists, with help of public, categorize biodiversity in Saint-Jacques Escarpment

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WATCH: Environmentalists are on an ambitious adventure this weekend in the Saint-Jacques Escarpment, taking pictures to fill out the biological snapshot of the forest to refer to it for biological protection for years to come. Olivia O'Malley reports – Jul 31, 2021

Along the lush four-kilometer stretch of the Saint-Jacques Escarpment, UrbaNature Education’s biologist Marc-Antoine Poulin taught participants about the smallest critters on the forest floor. The Saturday morning bug walk is one of several workshops the environmental education group is hosting this weekend.

“We have bird walks, we have butterfly walks in Terry Fox Park,” explained UrbaNature Education Director Lisa Mintz.

Mintz has fought for over one decade to protect the greenspace. She said the workshops emphasize the importance of environmental conservation and protection, but the main objective is for people to enjoy the forest.

Even though he led the bug walk, Poulin said it’s about much more than discovering insects.

“So it’s understanding that there’s so much nature and life present in the city, right in your own neighborhood,” he said.

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Read more: Montreal outlines land for 60-hectare Parc de la falaise at Saint-Jacques Escarpment

During the various walks, guides encourage participants to take photos of any species they see and upload them to an app. This way UrbaNature Education can catalogue the forest’s biodiversity.

“Once you have a list of what’s here, then you can provide the importance of the space in biological terms and we can say this is a really important space because we have X, Y and Z,” said Mintz.

She said the catalogue can also be used as a way to compare what the greenspace was like before and after 15 years of construction on the Turcot, which can be seen through the escarpment’s trees.

Read more: Pedestrian walkway over Turcot Interchange gets green light

“We wanna see where we’re at after all this construction and we also want to see how much it can get better in the next few years, when the Falaise is the grand park,” she said.

The escarpment is one of 10 eco-territories identified by the City of Montreal in its nature conservation plan. It will eventually be a part of the 60-hectare Parc de la falaise between the boroughs of Côte-des-Neiges-Notre-Dame-de-Grâce and the Sud Ouest.

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Until then, Mintz hopes people will continue to explore the escarpment and its biodiversity, even if they can’t attend a workshop this weekend.

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