Name: Henri Goulet & Pete Dang
Date: May 07, 2017
Time: 11:00 AM
Duration: 1.0 hr
Language: English
Start: Vaan Drive & Pineland Ave,

.........................near Woodroffe & Slack Rd.

End: same
Area: Merivale Gardens
Distance: 1.0 km

The walk will be along a trail covered with wood chips and in some places we will walk in the sand and in the woods.  We suggest that people wear hiking boots or sturdy walking shoes.  Note that wheeled vehicles are not allowed in the dune area.

The Pinhey Sand Dunes and their Current Restoration Effort



Cette promenade a également lieu en français.

Photo:  A tour group at Pinhey Sand Dunes.

The Pinhey Sand Dunes are an unusual micro-environment and a rare feature of Ottawa's ecology.  Before 2011, the site was known as an abandoned sand pit.  These restored open sandy areas represent only a small fraction (about 1%) of the original 4 square kilometer inland sand dunes system, one of the end products of the prehistoric Champlain Sea. Most importantly, a rare and unique dry-land habitat and ecosystem have been restored to enrich the biological and habitat diversity of the the National Capital Greenbelt.

The dune organisms are mostly insects, spiders and other arthropods, which have developed an extraordinary ability to live in an extreme dune environment where during the summer (i) the sun is fiercely bright and hot; (ii) sand temperatures can soar to 70–72 C; (iii) winds can be at times gusty enough to cause local dust storms and dust devils; and (iv) the insects and plants are constantly being bombarded with abrading sand grains or buried under shifting sands.

It is a bit too early to see activities of dunes organisms. If we get a warm sunny day, we may see some insects such as the Big Sand Tiger Beetle, Cicindela Formosa, running here and there. In any case, you will enjoy seeing and learning about the Pinhey sand dunes, how they were formed; the restoration process.  A walk across the dunes and through part of the Pinhey Forest will reveal the early spring wild flowers on the forest floor.

The Pinhey Dunes is an unusual habitat requiring our help to maintain it, as otherwise it would soon disappear, as indeed it nearly did. You can learn more about the Pinhey Sand Dunes online here. A lovely photo essay on plant and insect species living in the dune can be found here.


We will walk through the dunes along a visitors' trail. 

Parking is available along the street near the corner of Vaan & Pineland.


Henri Goulet is a retired scientist from the Canadian National Collection under Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, with a specialty in biodiversity and conservation. He is interested in many facets of the natural world.

Pete Dang is a retired scientist from the Canadian Forest Service and Agriculture and Agri-Foods Canada.  He is president and founder of Biodiversity Conservancy International (BCI), and director of the BCI Sand Dune Conservation Project, as well as founder of the international scientific journal Biodiversity.  His research specialty is in Microlepidoptera, including leafrollers, budworms, and ladybird beetles. 

In recognition of their achievements towards restoring the unique Pinhey Dune habitat in the National Capital Greenbelt, BCI has received a Conservation Award in 2012 from the Ottawa Field Naturalists Club.