Partenaires du Secteur Aylmer
Aylmer biodiversity hike series on until mid-June
Aylmer residents participated in a guided biodiversity hike through the Boucher Forest, Saturday May 7. The hike was organized by Partenaires du Secteur Aylmer and was led by Pascal Samson, a biologist and professor of forestry at La Cité collégiale. Hikers started their tour at the Aylmer dog park and walked a 7.5-kilometre circuit around the park grounds.
During the hike Samson shared facts about the many plant and animal species hikers could observe along the trail. The group learned to recognize edible plant species, and identify different birds by their songs. Hikers also learned about Aylmer’s unique geological history and the significance of the region for biologists and nature lovers alike.
“Aylmer has some of the richest biodiversity in all of Quebec due to its geographic location and geological history.” Samson said. “Between 30-40% of rare species in Quebec are found in the Outaouais region, which makes this area very special. There is still a lot we don’t know, as new species are being identified here each year.”
Samson explained that 10,000 years ago, the weight of a glacier some three kilometres high compressed the area around Aylmer into the Outaouais valley we know today. Flooded with water from the melting glacier, the Aylmer area formed part of the seabed of a prehistoric body of water named the Champlain Sea.
Signs of this history are observable in the Boucher Forest. The area is rich in limestone deposits which support the growth of large cedar trees and make the park and surrounding areas ideal for finding fossils. An alvar (a limestone plain), as well as wetlands can be found in the northern corner of the park. Samson noted that many caves can be found in the Outaouais region more generally.
This event is the first of nine biodiversity hikes organized by Partenaires du Secteur Aylmer. There will be an organized hike in a different area of Aylmer every Saturday until June 11th. Hike tours will be offered in both English and French on alternating weekends. Further information about the upcoming hikes as well as the registration form can be found on the “Activities” page of the Partenaires du Secteur Aylmer website (https://aylmerpourmoi.ca/). Samson also organizes weekly hikes with the community group, Rando sous les étoiles. Information on these hikes can be found by joining the Facebook group under the same name.
Photo: The first in a series of guided hikes featuring local biodiversity held May 7. (LR) Photo: Greg Newing