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Urban Sprawl: The Suburban Attack on Biodiversity

In a recently published article in Frontiers For Global Change, researchers found that no more than 2.9% of global landmass was considered to be free from human influence (Plumptre, et al, 2021). Be it through the introduction of invasive species, over-hunting, or the destruction of natural environments, practices of endless growth that dominate much of our economy and public policies seem determined to reduce this percentage to zero.

These pristine environments contain wealths of biodiversity and should be protected at all costs, but we should not overlook the importance of natural spaces in our local communities. To those of us who are lucky enough to live in proximity to natural spaces, it is our responsibility to make sure these ecological habitats are protected. In the case of Montreal, our green spaces are in terrible danger. In a paper written in 2016 in the journal Ecological Indicators, Montreal was recorded as having higher rates of urban sprawl than ever in its history (Nazarnia). It has been increasing at exponential rates, with new suburban developments overtaking forests and ecosystems at an alarming rate.

Just off the island of Montreal sits the island of Ile Perrot. Haydn, a resident there, has seen first hand the effects of urban sprawl. Countless trails and forested areas have been steadily built over. In place of these wooded groves and communities of life, development contractors have built large expensive communities. Formulaic houses sit row upon row; yet another artificial suburb built overnight. 

Now the municipality of Notre Dame de L’Ile Perrot (NDIP), seeks to add to its growing collection of shiny new dwellings by cutting down a vast swath of forest and destroying habitats to build five new housing developments. Seeing as many citizens are not engaged in municipal politics, the decision to develop this land went over without much public attention. Were it not for the organization “Notre Ile Nature” sending leaflets to residents, this action would likely have gone through without much resistance. The mayor of NDIP claims only “a handful of citizens care.” Should you disagree with this sentiment, let the city know! Send your concerns to notreilenature@gmail.com, and they will be brought to the council. 

It is our responsibility as living beings who share the land to provide this resistance. It is time to lead the change and protect our communities from irreversible harm.

Kayleigh Tooke & Haydn Strunga

Works Cited 

Nazarnia, Naghmeh, et al. “Accelerated Urban Sprawl in Montreal, Quebec City, and Zurich: Investigating the Differences Using Time Series 1951–2011.” Ecological Indicators, vol.60, 2016, pp. 1229–1251., doi:10.1016/j.ecolind.2015.09.020. 

Plumptre, Andrew J., et al. “Where Might We Find Ecologically Intact Communities?” Frontiers in Forests and Global Change, vol. 4, 2021, doi:10.3389/ffgc.2021.626635.