Within the framework of a policy of compliance with international plant and animal health standards, the Biodôme’s conservation activities involve its living collections as well as safeguarding natural environments. The Biodôme participates in a number of national and international conservation programs to prevent extinction and promote reintroduction of endangered species into their natural habitat. It also conducts many research projects on endangered species or collaborates with partner institutions on their research.
Conservation and restoration of Wild Leek in Québec
Did you know that 20 per cent of wild plants in Québec are currently vulnerable, endangered or at risk? Concrete measures must be taken to change this situation. Local communities have a key role to play. In 1999, the Montréal Biodôme launched SEM’AIL, a public awareness, education and restoration program for wild leek. From 2000 to 2004, one million wild leek seeds were distributed to 1,117 maple groveowners, creating 500 new colonies in southern Québec.
Today, the Montréal Biodôme leads SEM'AILjr, a school program on biodiversity. After learning about the importance of preserving biodiversity, students then get involved in wild leek restoration by creating a new colony in their community. Regions that have been most affected by the plants’ decline – Montérégie, Lanaudière and the Laurentians – are targeted. During the wintertime, a Biodôme facilitator gives a workshop on biodiversity conservation in the classroom. In the spring, students plant wild leek seeds in a protected forest in their area suitable for the plant to thrive. Each student involved in a community project to restore a vulnerable species plays an important role in biodiversity conservation in Québec.
Conservation and restoration of North American Ginseng
The national recovery plan for North American ginseng suggests that 40 natural, high-quality populations be conserved in Québec and Ontario, as a priority. Conservation and restoration of North American ginseng have been undertaken at the Montréal Biodôme since 1994. In 2004-2005, 38 conservation targets were identified in Québec and personalized conservation plans were prepared. Since then, these plans have been implemented. It should be noted that most conservation targets (17/38) are orphans and are not being monitored. There is an urgent need to evaluate the implementation of conservation plans with local stakeholders (NGOs or site managers) and adjust them as necessary.
At present, the project aims to:
- Increase conservation efforts for orphan targets
- Offer ginseng conservation and restoration training to local NGOs and key site managers (including a reference guide)
- Evaluate the implementation of 2004-2006 conservation plans
- Conduct inventories for 10 priority targets that have not been reviewed since 2006
- Offer scientific and technical support to NGOs involved in monitoring priority conservation targets.
These actions will contribute to a significant advancement of wild ginseng conservation and restoration in its distribution area in Québec.