Monday, April 27, 2009

We All Share the Same Backyard

"We all share the same backyard."

I didn't expect to go to this year's Ontario Horticultural Society AGM and come away an advocate for shade grown, organic, fair trade coffee, but that's what happened Saturday.

Nicki and I went to listen to the speakers and pick up some horticultural tips. One of the presenters spoke about Project Chirp, (Creating Habitat In Residential areas and Parkland) a songbird conservation initiative in which the survival needs of songbirds are met through the creation of Canadian Wildlife Federation-certified songbird habitats on residential properties. Lots of great tips for using trees and shrubs to create a welcoming habitat for songbirds and pollinators. One of my favourite things about my backyard are the birds that happen by, like the finches at our feeder on the right.

Toronto is on the major migration route of several species. With so much of the green space on our planet shrinking it is getting tougher and tougher for many of these birds to make their journey.

Much of the boreal and rainforest is disappearing to fuel consumer demand for new 'stuff'. Which is why the personal choices we make are more important than ever.

Which brings me to the coffee. These plantations clear-cut rainforest to make way for profitable cash crops and destroy habitat in the process. The environment is thrown off balance. The bird population decreases, the insect population increases, more pesticides are used and remaining wildlife is poisoned. The impact of large-scale operations on local economies is brutal as well. Shade grown labels mean trees remain for habitat. Organic farming methods mean the food is better for your body, but it's also better for the environment as well. Fair trade practices cut out the middle man and help ensure people are paid fairly for their labour.

Another choice I'll make in the future is to buy 100% recycled paper and paper labelled 'fsc' when possible. To earn the Forest Certified Council certification companies must also involve local communities and Aboriginal Peoples in the development of forest management plans, and respect their rights and beliefs. FSC is the only forest certification standard supported by organizations such as the World Wildlife Fund of Canada, Sierra Club of Canada and Greenpeace.

You can sign this petition to 'Save Our Boreal Birds' online
or visit the Canadian Wildlife Federation website Wild About Gardening for tips on badkyard habitat creation and certification.

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