Forest landmarks: A guide down memory lane

Backus Woods, Ontario (Photo by NCC)

Backus Woods, Ontario (Photo by NCC)

May 28, 2018 | by Liv Monck-Whipp

There's something very personal about landmarks. The features in a forest that you learn to navigate by ― turn left at this weird looking branch, go just past that spot where you saw a barred owl last year ― might not jump out to you. Memories of special wildlife encounters, where to watch out for scratchy thorns or beautiful views, can influence how you move through and appreciate a forest in a way that's totally unique.

Mental field map (Comic by Liv Monck-Whipp, Tails from the Field)

Comic by Liv Monck-Whipp/Tails from the Field

The Nature Conservancy of Canada's (NCC’s) Backus Woods property is a place where people have come to appreciate nature for generations. Its extensive trail system and diversity of habitat provide many places to explore.

Tuliptree flower (Photo by Bernt Solymar)

Tuliptree flower (Photo by Bernt Solymar)

I am lucky enough to get to visit Backus Woods often, but each time I speak with someone new about this place, they have a different story to tell and different landmarks that they share. The spot they first saw a salamander, their annual visits with grandparents, a bend in the trail that showcases a tuliptree in bloom. This one place has so many special meanings to countless people. Many of these experiences are shared with friends and family, but each is also preciously personal. They’re like our own little maps of the world.

NCC has an opportunity to expand the 1,850-acre (749-hectare) Backus Woods by acquiring two surrounding pieces of land — one in the east and one in the southeast. Together these two properties will total 173 acres (71 hectares). By adding nearly 10 per cent to Backus Woods, NCC will increase the size of a connected network of habitat for the many rare and at-risk species that need the forest here to thrive. It will also mean a future addition to the existing trail network that thousands of people enjoy every year. You can learn more about this exciting project here.

Liv Monck-Whipp

About the Author

Liv Monck-Whipp is a conservation biology assistant in the Ontario Region for the Nature Conservancy of Canada.

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