What will a sustainable shoreline be like in 2030? - Cheryl Peach column
BY CHERYL PEACH
The late Geoff Peach was the co-founder of the Lake Huron Coastal Centre. Here are some of Geoff’s dreams for the future, recorded back in 2015:
• Expansive, resource-consuming turf lawns will be unfashionable, obsolete symbols of overconsumption and pretense.
• Where there is a need or an urge for large lawn-like areas, these will be pastures of native, drought tolerant grasses, returning nutrients to the soil.
• Hiking and biking trails along the coast; kayak and canoe routes established along the coast.
• Ornamental plantings will also include a large component of time-proven native shrubs and trees, flowers, ferns and grasses, providing seasonal changes and links with our natural history without the need for irrigation or fertilizer.
• A network of forests and other natural areas will be preserved and protected, in various stages of succession. With management to maintain their natural diversity and beauty, various-sized patches and corridors will be protected and managed, and they will in turn protect the quality of water in streams and rivers and will help build resilience against climate change trends.
• Our coastal systems (dunes, bluffs, wetlands, alvars, beaches) will be treated with care, and we will use our beaches without damaging their ecology or altering their structure.
When asked about their dreams, Grade 7 and 8 students from the Avon Maitland District School Board said:
• Our communities will include a population that cares about the health of our earth, people and wildlife and willactively take steps toward implementing appropriate stewardship practices.
• Our communities will be actively engaged in composting locally and single-use plastic and microplastic issues within our creeks, rivers and lakes will be things of the past. All restaurants, grocery stores and businesses will have used innovative strategies in collaboration with community partners to develop safe, healthy and environmentally friendly products for consumers.
• Instead of cutting down trees, we will have planted millions and our forests, lakes and recreational spaces will be healthy, supporting an abundance of native species- both animal and plant.
• People will drive less and become more active through walking and biking. Motorized vehicles will be energy-efficient and won’t pollute our environment.
• Partnerships, collaboration and innovation abound (business, health, tourism, conservation, development, waste management, etc.) supporting thriving, sustainable, healthy communities.
Whether we reach the goal of sustainability is dependent on our activities. As Covid-19 reminds us that this earth is sick, we won’t get there by maintaining a business-as-usual attitude. We won’t get there if we permit the perpetuation of an image that sustainable, productive landscapes are anti-design, or that they can never really be as beautiful as today’s irrigated, herbicide-sprayed, chemically fertilized, and mowed landscapes. We won’t get there if we believe that everything we purchase is safe for our health or packaged with earth-friendly materials. This can be a time of reflection and understanding; “The Corona virus… is sent to remind us of the important lessons that we seem to have forgotten and it is up to us if we will learn them or not.” Bill Gates, March 26, 2020
[original article was authored by Geoff Peach in 2015, and has been updated by Cheryl Peach and students in our local schools]