In creating the Base Camp of the 1000 Days for the Planet mission, Space for Life launched a movement for biodiversity. The ambassadors, people who decided to make public the action that they’re taking for the planet, are so inspiring that we wanted to share their story with you. Who knows, maybe you’ll be inspired and become an ambassador yourself!
“I felt we had a little treasure beside us and that we were in danger of losing it: the city of Saint-Hyacinthe was starting to use it as a snow dump.” Céline Lussier Cadieux is telling me what the key element was that led her to do something with her parents’ land, so that it could be conserved and remain accessible to other hikers wanting to walk through the woods.
A land filled with memory
In the mid-1950s, Adrienne Beauregard and her husband, René Lussier, operated a dairy farm on their land in the area. The years went by, and eventually the herd was sold off. But a portion of the land previously devoted to grazing was still used as a special hiking spot for the family. One winter’s day, as her mother, Adrienne, struggled to climb over the immense hill of snow that separated her from her land, Céline was struck with the idea of saving the woods. Her parents and her four sisters gave her the green light – and then came 12 years of effort! René, her father, died in 2000, but it wasn’t until 2007 that Adrienne succeeded in officially bequeathing her land to the perpetual conservation of biodiversity. And thus was born the nature reserve of Boisé-des-Douze [http://www.boisedesdouze.org/].
Twelve arpents from happiness
I’m driving through a pretty much industrial neighborhood of Saint-Hyacinthe, so imagine my surprise when I see a leafy oasis rising up at the end of the road, in the heart of town. And there Céline greets me, with open arms, in “her” woods. Christened the Boisé-des-Douze, it takes its name from the stream of the same reference number that runs through it, located 12 arpents from the closest main road, Highway 137. The four hectares conceded by her mother are a portion of this wooded area, in which people can hike along two and a half kilometers of pathways, the remainder of the woods having been laid out and made accessible with the agreement of the owners of adjacent land.
Chairman of the board of the Boisé-des-Douze organization and with a strong sense of belonging to the place, Céline has been tending to the woods for many years now. You feel that the trees, the birds and the insects it shelters are a bit like the extension of her family.
A choice spot for native species
Accompanied by the other members of the board, Céline coordinates the activities involving surveillance, maintenance and conservation of the land, and education. She tells me about the little joyful battles waged against the propagation of species that could impoverish the diversity of native plants in the woods. Teams of volunteers regularly roll up their sleeves for chores like removing Norway maple shoots to leave room for red maple, basswood and other species that could be affected by the competition. The squad also attacks garlic mustard, carefully pulled up in places where numerous colonies of native violets border the stream. Buckthorn, that invader of the undergrowth, has to be dealt with as well, along with the common reed.
The generous and inspiring action taken by Adrienne and her five daughters, as she’s happy to point out, has benefited the entire community. Her hope for what comes next? She’d like her initiative to inspire other landowners to invest in conserving biodiversity. With her daughter Céline, the duty to leave a legacy of what she was able to enjoy in her childhood can be felt in the love and energy she invests in the conservation of Boisé-des-Douze. When her grandchildren visit, she takes them for walks there. Four generations have ambled along these precious pathways, and dozens of others will do it too…