News / Ottawa

Digging dune to save doodlebugs from ruin

Few people know that Ottawa has a rare, desert-like ecosystem near Woodroffe Avenue ' even though it's been there for nearly 10,000 years.

The Ottawa Greenbelt Sand Dune is home to many unique species but it's slowly disappearing because of encroaching vegetation, such as trees and small plants. A group of scientists and volunteers is trying to preserve it by removing the trees that were planted there to open up the area and keep it hot and dry.

One threatened species is the antlion, which survives by building traps in the sand to capture ants.

“The sand dune is the result of the last ice age,” said Tropical Conservancy president Dr. P.T. Dang, who is leading a two-year preservation project. “If we remove this (sand dune) habitat, animals that live here are going to be lost forever,” he said.

Grade 12 students from Merivale High School and other members of the community have been volunteering on weekends to uproot trees and other vegetation.

“It's difficult work but it's really satisfying because you can see the progress,” said Anish Muradia, 16.

“It's a really unique feature of our area,” added Rahul Chandan, 17.

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