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Le Cimetière Notre-Dame-des-Neiges – Un havre pour la biodiversité | The Notre-Dame-des-Neiges Cemetery – A Haven for Biodiversity



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Biodiversity Garden


The Notre-Dame-des-Neiges Cemetery – A Haven for Biodiversity

Since 2020, Notre-Dame-des-Neiges Cemetery has undertaken a major green shift to reduce the impact of its activities on the environment by significantly increasing its contribution to biodiversity on Mount Royal. Its 343-acre site is covered with more than 13,500 trees including four protected woodlands.

After identifying and developing several small gardens to encourage biodiversity, planting a variety of flora, and integrating native perennials requiring minimal maintenance, we expanded the scope of the cemetery's ecological conversion by starting several initiatives in 2021. Inspired by Les amis de la montagne and the expertise and advice of sustainable development specialists at the Université de Montréal, we decided to transform a 93,000-square-metre-lawn into a flower meadow. To achieve this, we let nature take its course by monitoring the growth of species, eradicating invasive plants, mowing once in the fall and leaving the cut plants on the ground to regenerate over the winter. By the summer of 2022, a rich and diverse flora could be seen throughout the site, as well as a proliferation of insects that pollinate and contribute to the diversification of native species.
We have designed the Remembrance Grove to offer ecological burials and to give family members the opportunity to mix the ashes of their loved one with the roots of a native tree sapling, thus honouring their memory while contributing to cleaner air and increased biodiversity on Mount Royal.
We also created several ecological restoration areas to enhance habitats and their biodiversity. The first step was to identify study areas of various sizes, where the grass was removed and replaced with the seedlings of a dozen native plants. These were selected from information provided by the City of Montreal's Service des grands parcs du Mont-Royal. These species are shiny sedge, kinky sedge, zigzag goldenrod, woodland goldenrod, prairie dropseed, bee balm, evening primrose, Canada anemone, Canadian milkvetch, flat-top white aster, golden zizia, and red fescue. We monitored their growth in each zone and made the necessary adjustments in 2022.

During the same year, we included the Artists' Union (UDA) and Artists' Foundation (FDA) plots in our ecological restoration project, replacing the grassy areas with the planting of a variety of native and/or biodiversity-enhancing perennials. The first area contains the "Eco-Louse" seed mix, which includes the following species: yarrow, woodland strawberry, ground ivy, heal-all, wallpepper and creeping thyme. The second area contains a "Renature Sauvage" mix, which includes the following species: knapweed, black-eyed susan, yarrow, red fescue, Canada bluegrass, sheep fescue, birdsfoot trefoil, rock fescue and white clover. We regularly monitor the growth of new species and maintain them using environmentally friendly practices, including pruning the plants in cold weather and composting the latter naturally. All these transformations have also attracted significantly more wildlife and birds, including the return of Monarch butterflies, a family of foxes, several bird species, etc.

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