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Bellwort flower. Photo: Geof Burbidge

Bellwort flower. Photo: Geof Burbidge

Benefits of Biodiversity

“... biological diversity has great economic, aesthetic, and spiritual value.”

The Ecological Society of America - Paul Ehrlich, famous American Population Ecologist

Humans depend on biodiversity every day. Chelsea’s biodiversity includes ecosystems such as forests, meadows, wetlands, lakes, rivers, and streams. These ecosystems provide services that all species in Chelsea benefit from, including clean air and water, pollination, breakdown of waste, food, and climate stability. Without healthy ecosystems and the services they provide, life on Earth would not be possible. For example, the variety of plants and animals we enjoy as foods have specific requirements of moisture, temperature and soil fertility. In turn, soil fertility is dependent on complex interactions between insects and micro-organisms that cycle nutrients from organic matter and minerals. Moreover, without pollinators, most plants wouldn't be able to produce seed and fruit. Farmers depend on wild pollinators to grow most produce and grains. In ecosystems like forests and meadows, many plants would disappear if pollinators did not provide their service.

Ecosystem Services

The ecosystem functions that benefit human society are called ecosystem services.  Humans and all other species are completely dependent on the life supporting services provided by ecosystems.  The United Nations Millenium Ecosystem Assessment listed four general services provided by ecosystems: Provisioning Services, which provide resources (e.g. food or timber) ; Regulating Services, which regulate ecosystem processes, such as decomposing organic waste; Cultural Services, which contribute to well being and sense of place through provision of spiritual, aesthetic, recreational or psychological benefits; and Supporting Services, which regulate processes necessary for all the other ecosystem services, such as water filtration and pollination.

Ecological Integrity

A report of the Panel on the Ecological Integrity of Canada’s National Parks provided the following definition of Ecological Integrity: "An ecosystem has integrity when it is deemed characteristic for its natural region, including the composition and abundance of native species and biological communities, rates of change and supporting processes." Ecosystems have integrity when they retain their native components (plants, animals and other organisms) and processes (such as growth and reproduction).

Biodiversity is connected to our Identity, Quality of Life, and Values

Identity

Many of Canada’s national icons are based on our natural world – such as the beaver, the sugar maple tree, the caribou, and the moose. We depict these icons on our coins and in cultural elements such as songs, works of art, and literature.

Canada’s hinterland is an integral element of who we are – “the true north strong and free”. We have a strong connection with our landscapes and landforms, including our mighty rivers, our plethora of lakes, hills, bedrock, prairies, mountains, coasts, and arctic tundra. Here in Chelsea, we strongly identify with the Gatineau River, the rolling hills, the deciduous forest, and the many species that inhabit the Gatineau Hills.

Quality of Life

Citizens of Chelsea have a strong bond with the landscapes of the region. We enjoy the beauty of the outdoors, and many of us love to play in it, through skiing, hiking, and biking. We appreciate having Gatineau Park as our neighbour and the contribution it makes to the natural environment of Chelsea and our well-being. It provides a richness of habitats and species that helps to define our sense of place. We also appreciate the ecosystems in Chelsea outside of Gatineau Park, including substantial parcels of undeveloped land, some with old growth forests, wetlands, and recreational trails.

Intrinsic Value

Biodiversity has ‘intrinsic value’ to many people, a value in its own right; not just for its usefulness to humans. There are also many ecosystem services that are thought to have intrinsic value, for moral, ethical or aesthetic reasons.