Saint-André-d’Argenteuil - Astonishing biodiversity in the Carillon Woodland
Boisé Carillon, QC (Photo by Félix Audette)
Refuge for a rare butterfly
The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) acquired 202 hectares in the municipality of Saint-André-d’Argenteuil, less than an hour’s drive west of Montreal. Known as the Carillon Woodland, NCC will protect the natural wealth of this exceptional area.
Over 20 species of rare plants and animals have been observed on the property, but the true showstopper is a small white globally endangered butterfly. Biologists were thrilled to discover Virginia whites fluttering in the deciduous forest, the species' favourite habitat.
Access to trails
The Carillon Woodland borders the Boisé Von Allmen, which is known for its trails. NCC plans to open more trails in the Carillon Woodland for visitors to enjoy. Hikers can explore this lush area, filled with frog calls and birdsong, beginning in early spring. Note to nature lovers from Saint-André d’Argenteuil and elsewhere: keep your eyes peeled! New trails will open in 2024!
Remarkable natural environments
The Carillon Woodland is home to an exceptional forest ecosystem of rock elm and black maple, designated as endangered and at risk, respectively, in Quebec. The forest runs along the natural banks of the Rivière du Nord for over 1.6 kilometres. Ponds and wetlands, prime habitat for snapping turtles, northern map turtles, pickerel frogs, blue-spotted salamanders, and a variety of birds and waterfowl, can also be found here.
This acquisition is the first step toward protecting these species. Here are some projects that have NCC has already been completed in protecting the important biodiversity of the Carillon Woodland:
Planting trees at Carillon woodland, QC (Photo by Felix Audette)
In the fall of 2021, NCC planted 900 native deciduous trees in a former orchard colonized by European buckthorn, an invasive alien plant. After witnessing a 15 per cent mortality rate, NCC planted an additional 100 native trees in the summer of 2022. This tree-planting initiative is part of a multi-year strategy to restore native vegetation and slow the spread of European buckthorn.
In the spring of 2022, NCC organized a cleanup operation where 14 conservation volunteers braved the heat and hordes of mosquitoes to pick up waste. Volunteers from Saint-André and the surrounding area, along with three NCC staff, rolled up their shirtsleeves and got to work. By the time they were done, they had filled half a 30 m3 container of 3,000 kilos of waste — provided free of charge by the local recycling centre — with scrap metal, old computers and plastic bags.
During the summer of 2023, ongoing work includes a second phase of waste removal and planting. NCC has also initiated discussions with various users to understand the different uses on the property and are planning a looped trail with interpretive panels. The trails will be officially opened for the 2024 summer season.
Carillon woodland, QC (Photo by NCC)
NCC recognizes the generous contributions of its funders, whose participation is essential: the Government of Quebec, which provided a grant of $53 million over four years, through its Partenariat pour les milieux naturels project; MapleCross Fund; Echo Foundation; Age of Union Alliance; TD Bank Group; the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, in accordance with the North American Wetlands Conservation Act; the Government of Canada, through Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Nature Smart Climate Solutions Fund, and Natural Resources Canada’s 2 Billion Trees Program; the North American Waterfowl Management Plan; the Fondation de la faune du Québec, through the Programme Hydro-Québec pour la mise en valeur de milieux naturels to restore the site and make it accessible to the public; and the North American Waterfowl Management Plan. NCC also thanks Cogeco, the City of Saint-André-d’Argenteuil and the Potvin family for supporting this project.