The Pinhey Sand Dunes and their Current Restoration Effort
A Jane's Walk group at the Pinhey Sand Dune.
Cette promenade a également lieu en français.
The Pinhey Sand Dunes are an unusual micro-environment and a rare feature of Ottawa's ecology. These restored open sandy areas represent only a small fraction (about 1%) of the original four 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.