---Local biologists conduct bioblitz in the Boucher Forest
The Boucher Forest Foundation (FFB), supported by local scientists, recently conducted an extensive bioblitz of the Boucher Forest, identifying more than 200 new fauna and flora species in the area.
FFB program coordinator Maxime Chaumont-Lessard explained that the goal of the bioblitz was to compile data regarding the forest’s ecosystem to help form a global portrait of its biodiversity, thus allowing for more strategic development of conservation projects in vulnerable species’ living environments. “It’s to ensure that these projects don’t harm these species,” Chaumont-Lessard said. “It also allows us to prepare projects aimed at re-establishing those species.”
Noting that the foundation’s bioblitzes in previous years were completed in one or two days, restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic caused this one to extend over three months. “It was a pretty particular formula,” Chaumont-Lessard said. “We couldn’t gather a bunch of people in the same place for 24 to 48 hours because there was more risk of spreading the virus. We adapted to the situation to ensure that we could still have data on our forest.”
Going from June 1 until August 31, the project saw more than 20 local biologists invited by the FFB visit the forest to compile a list of its species.
Chaumont-Lessard said the scientists visited the forest at their convenience to record the species they wanted to research, and that they were all volunteers from the region. He also noted that, in a way, conducting the project over a longer period of time turned out to be beneficial in achieving its main purpose, since more opportunities were provided for discovering different species. “For bats, for example, we needed to wait until certain periods to ensure that they were there,” Chaumont-Lessard said. “When we do it in 24 to 48 hours, it doesn’t cover the entirety of auspicious periods to observe many species.”
Notably, scientists recorded 543 different observations, 222 of which included new species to the forest. Among those were silver-haired bats, hoary bats, and the Eastern whip-poor-will. Altogether, 1,120 identified species are in the Boucher Forest.
A scientific coordinator was required for the project and biologist Carl Savignac from the local wildlife and sustainable management firm Dendroica Environnement et Faune filled this position. In all, the bioblitz cost approximately $9,700, Chaumont-Lessard said.
Daniel Rosset of the FFB’s scientific committee believes the bioblitz could have been more fruitful had it started in the spring, since that is the prime time for many plant and bird species. He emphasized the necessity of completing such a project, since it provides a better understanding of one of Aylmer’s last areas of significant greenspace for the city to consider in its management and development plan. “It will help the foundation to properly inform the city regarding its partnership, and to make the right decisions regarding the forest’s development,” Rosset said.
The project involved several educational walks for residents throughout the summer, while respecting recommended sanitary measures – three introductions to mushroom foraging and two geared on biology – which drew around 50 participants. The project was supported by the city of Gatineau’s Green Fund and the TD Friends of the Environment Foundation.
Last month, Gatineau council adopted the FFB’s management and development plan for the Boucher Forest, paving the way for a municipally regulated outdoor education and environmental conservation destination in the near future.