When Miriam Richards led a group of journalists down a path at the Glenridge Quarry on Wednesday, she did it as the bearer of good news.
The associate professor of Biological Sciences has been identifying bee species at the former landfill site in south St. Catharines since 2003. All signs point to the populations being healthy at the naturalization site, where landfill has been converted to public park, she said. Flora and fauna appears to have flourished.
Richards’ research was part of the latest policy brief released by Brock’s Niagara Community Observatory (NCO). Released at an event Wednesday in partnership with the Niagara Region, the brief outlines the success of the naturalization project. There is significant biodiversity at the site, the brief reads, as well as opportunities for recreation and environmental education.
Entitled “Niagara’s Natural Park: The Restoration of the Glenridge Quarry into a Naturalization Site,” the eight-page document was compiled by NCO’s Sophia Papastavrou.
Richards’ research team has identified the return of as many as 125 species of bees to the area. It is encouraging that even with a steady flow of people and pets in the area, bee populations remain stable, she said.
“The Glenridge Naturalization site has become a valuable refuge for bees, an island in an increasingly urbanized environment,” Richards said. “As their population grows, bees will likely move into the surrounding areas, helping to pollinate flower and vegetable gardens in the local area.”
Richards and David Smith, associate director, Waste Management Engineering, Niagara Region, provided significant background and expertise in the creation of the policy brief. Wednesday’s event included a walkabout at the quarry site and discussion of some of the animal life that has returned.
“This initiative by the Region has provided a tremendous asset for the area, and Prof. Richards’s involvement in research shows how Brock can play an important role in working with community partners,” said David Siegel, NCO director, in a media release. “I’m really pleased that the Observatory has been able to document this incredibly beneficial partnership.”
The success at the St. Catharines site has provided a blueprint for other former landfill sites in Niagara, Smith said. With the success of the Glenridge Quarry Naturalization Site, similar practices have been put in place for closed landfill sites in Port Colborne and Wainfleet.
“These two sites are in the process of being ‘recycled’ into naturalization sites and will be opening to the public very shortly,” he said.