Great Canadian Parks / New Brunswick

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The Parks / New Brunswick / Fundy National Park


 


In studying Fundy's characteristic stands of Acadian forest, scientists have discovered a crucial role played by a tiny forest creature called the Northern Flying Squirrel. The squirrels feed on the Myccorrhizal fungi, whose tiny rootlets attach themselves to the roots of trees. The fungi are critical to the trees ' ability to survive in a nutrient poor soil, supplementing their diet. The only way the fungi can spread is through the scat of small rodents who eat them, principally the flying squirrels. So without the squirrels, there are no more fungi; without the fungi, the Acadian forest withers and dies, and so goes the squirrels ' habitat. It is a perfect symbiotic relationship.

 

The problem here is due to human use of the forests outside of Fundy's small, protected area and the resulting fragmentation of the Northern Flying Squirrel's habitat. The squirrels travel by gliding from tree to tree, so the presence of a clear-cut is a serious impediment to their movement. Increasingly isolated populations lack the necessary gene pool for continued viability and gradually, small populations become extinct ending the perfect relationship between squirrel and forest. The solution is to change our patterns of forest use, which foresters in the Greater Fundy Ecosystem are trying to do.

Although the Park has a long history of settlement and land use, there are still many wild species that inhabit the area. Deer, moose and black bear can be seen in the backcountry, along with fisher, porcupine, beaver and coyote. The Peregrine Falcon is one of the native species that has been re-introduced to Fundy National Park in recent years. There have also been programmes to bring back the American marten and the Atlantic salmon.

 

The endangered Peregrine Falcon was extirpated from the Fundy region around 1950. Parks Canada and the Canadian Wildlife Service initiated the re-introduction of the Peregrine in 1982. Over a period of six years, 55 peregrines were released from two sites within the National Park. Conservation Officers would monitor the cliffs where nesting was most likely to occur.

 

By nature's timetable, it is too soon to claim success, but breeding pairs have been sighted along the coast, and park staff have even been able to observe fledglings in a nest just outside the Park 's eastern boundary.

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