When many of us think wetlands, we think nature. We imagine wilderness, serenity, seclusion. We envision an area isolated from urban influence – an escape, one could say. But as realvision’s photo “A man and a plane” demonstrates, such is not always the case.
Iona Beach Regional Park, from where this Photo of the Month was taken, is a perfect example of where nature and human-presence meet. A 3.8 hectare wetland sits quietly in the park, while jumbo-jets approach YVR and descend through the sky. Families walk the shoreline to take it all in, while local birds chirp cheerfully in the background. For those who haven’t experienced Iona Beach, I highly recommend it. It’s an excellent way to experience beach communities and wetlands, while hearing the roar of jet engines in the distance. It is both a fascinating and concerning area. Somehow, nature has managed to succeed in this area despite incredible levels of noise pollution and human influence. Its ability to do so is truly marvellous. Yet, as you take up a log on the shoreline and watch the planes come in (or depart), one can not help but wonder what toll this takes on the local wildlife.
We have long known that noise pollution can harm wildlife in 4 critical ways:
1) hearing loss
2) masking – the inability to hear important environmental cues and animal signals
3) non-auditory physiological effects – increased heart rate, general stress reaction
4) behavioural effects – varies greatly, but may include lost reproduction and territory abandonment
One would imagine such effects would be evident at Iona Beach, yet scant attention has been paid to the issue. Recent studies have examined ways in which we can manage the ecological communities there, but efforts and issues have focused on vegetation and ignored the impacts of noise pollution. Hopefully greater conservation efforts are directed at Iona Beach to preserve the important wetland and wildlife habitats. If we pay greater attention to the issues of ecosystem-degradation caused by humans, perhaps we can mitigate the effects. And maybe then we can embrace both the loud but fascinating plane-filled horizon and the peaceful wetlands that reside nearby; after all, that’s what makes Iona Beach Regional Park so interesting.
Upload any photos of wetlands you have taken to our “Wetlands of British Columbia” Flickr group, and your photo might be selected for a Photo of the Month feature!