We are a group of passionate students and Beaconsfield community members concerned about the present environmental state of the world. We are determined to fight for future generations’ well-being. We aim to bring our vision of the future to life through participatory action research, policy advocacy, and bringing our whole community together towards a common goal.
Our project, in the short term, is to clean Angell Woods, a natural green space in Beaconsfield that is 210 acres large with an old growth forest as well as wetlands. Moreover, we are conducting research on soil contamination and compiling recommendations based on our science which we will communicate to local stakeholders. In the long term, we aim to preserve and restore the biodiversity in Angell Woods in partnership with the community and the city. We want to give Angell Woods “back its wings”.
This space will be part of a national park, yet to be established, named le Grand Parc de l’Ouest. Though this seems to be the direction the city of Beaconsfield is going, there is a major challenge not addressed by the city: the place is full of polluting garbage!
Angell woods was used as an unofficial garbage dump for at least the last forty years. Layered on the ground and buried under secondary growth forest lie piles of tiling material, car parts, railway ties, cement, household waste, and even chemical products. Moreover, there is no existing data on the soil pollution of Angell Woods. We are therefore responding to this gap in knowledge as well as action by cleaning up this area and conducting research on soil health.
Thus far, we have collected along with many volunteers well over 18,140 pounds of trash from Angell Woods. By incorporating citizen science into our clean-ups (categorizing the types of waste, taking soil samples, weighing the waste, observing which animals surround the waste, etc.), we teach our participants about conservation, educate about the need for robust policies to preserve green spaces like Angell Woods, and foster a conversation around circular economies. We are transforming Angell Woods from the roots up.
It is imperative to carry out this project because the park is subjected to anthropogenic risks like pollution, fragmentation, and sound pollution which are threatening a multitude of bird and plant species that currently live in this area. According to a report by the city of Beaconsfield, some of these birds include the red-tailed hawk, the red-shouldered hawk, and Cooper’s hawk. Angel Woods is also home to nine vulnerable plant species: Black maple tree (A. Nigrum), Celtis tree (Celtis), American bladdernut (S. trifolia), Hitchcock’s sedge (C. Hitchcockiana), Clinton's wood fern (D. clintoniana), Downy agrimony (A. pubescens, 1 individual), Water speedwell (V. Anagallis-Acquatica), Hairy Sedge (C. hirtifolia) and Garlic of the woods (A. Tricoccum). Furthermore, restoring the ecological health of this area would also protect the wetland ecosystems in Angell Woods and mitigate the damage of invasive species.
Once our studies have been completed, we will write a report with findings, their implications, and how this case study parallels many other green spaces. Beyond these studies, we hope to evaluate the biodiversity in Angell Woods to address a number of conservation issues. Once the report is ready, we plan on making it publicly available, sending it to stakeholders, and creating an art exhibition showcasing artwork made from the waste in Angell Woods to bolster our report. After this process is completed, we plan to reconvene to evaluate the next steps with community members for further research and trash clean-ups.
The gathering and sharing of the information we find on soil pollution is crucial because knowledge empowers people and communities to act. Cleaning up polluted land and protecting biodiversity have far-reaching implications beyond this one park. By leaving the land in better condition than we found it and making an education campaign around this project, we hope to teach and inspire others to do the same and address the systemic issues that caused this green space to be threatened in the first place. Ending on an old Haudenosaunee principle that resonates strongly with us: We want to encourage residents to think seven generations ahead and seven generations behind when planning this space.
1. Answer this quick 5-minute survey to share your vision of the park with us. Having a larger community perspective can help make our project as relevant as possible.
2. Add your name to our mailing list so we can tell you when we are doing clean-up events and keep you up to date on the project. Expect bi-weekly to monthly updates, nothing too crazy!
3. Talk about Project Phoenix with your friends and family, share our page on social media!
4. Reach out to collaborate or sponsor us (soil contamination analyses are expensive!).