Parks Canada takes steps to protect rare flowers found only in the NWT Park Reserve

Parks Canada takes steps to protect rare flowers found only in the NWT Park Reserve


Little is known about Nahanni Aster, but this flower has become a species of particular interest to plant lovers.

The plant has only appeared in the Nahanni National Park in the Northwest Territories. If passers-by didn’t notice the little white flower at all, that can be forgiven.

Nahanni National Park ecologist Sarah Arnold (Sarah Arnold) said that Nahanni aster has a yellow center and pale pink or white petals and may be mistaken for daisies or other members of the aster family.

“If you walk past it, you might not even really notice it,” she said. “They are not very conspicuous.”

Nahanni aster is one of hundreds of species of aster flowers in the world, although Arnold believes that this species is unique to the Northwest Territories

It is estimated that there are only 130,000 rhizomes in total, and its population seems to thrive only in the presence of calcium deposits in the park’s hot springs. There are about 63 hot springs in Nahanni Park, but only 6 have been found.

“We really don’t know why we found this plant in some springs but not in others,” Arnold said.

Arnold and other Canadian park staff are completing the Nahanni Aster management plan, which was included in the Canadian Endangered Species List in 2018. Arnold said this will help raise awareness of its conservation and hopes to help gather some information about the species. The elusive species.

Consultation with indigenous knowledge holders

Arnold said that consulting the surrounding communities is the key, “We really hope to spend some time communicating with indigenous knowledge holders, and it is best for them to share their knowledge with us on these websites.”

Herb Norwegian is the former chief chief of the Dehcho aboriginal people, working with the park to bring traditional knowledge to visitors.

Although he is not sure what Nahanni aster is, he said that the park is full of unique plants and wild animals, each of which carries a legend.

Nahanni aster is only found in some hot springs in Nahanni Park and seems to rely on calcium deposits left by travertine rock formations. (M.Beaujot/Canada Park)

“When you enter Nahanni and enter these areas, it’s almost like entering a Harry Potter movie. All you see are these unusual sights, which are completely different,” he said.

“This little flower is just one of many fragments of a larger story.”

Nahanni aster was designated as an endangered species in 2018, and Canadian parks then proceeded to collect detailed records of it as a point of comparison in the future. (M.Beaujot/Canada Park)

Suzanne Carriere, a wildlife biologist at the Territorial Environment and Natural Resources Department, said that the fantasy landscape described by the Norwegians has good reasons.

She said that parts of Nahanni Park are called glacial refuges, which means land that was not covered by ice sheets during the last ice age.

Coupled with special habitats, such as hot springs, create a geographical environment where rare species are often found.

Although the location of Nahanni Aster in the ecosystem is not clear, Carriere emphasized the importance of maintaining its protection. She said she heard people argue that only species useful to humans should be protected.

“You can’t be picky,” she said. “This is not a zoo. The ecosystem is very complicated.”

Future benchmark

This flower was first discovered in the 1970s by botanists surveying the site. Canadian Parks re-examined this flower in 2003. At that time, researchers compared this plant with its relatives-measuring the size of the stems and petals, the number of flower heads on each stem, and the specific color and texture-to determine that there is no other plant in the world like Nahanni Aster .

The Canadian Commission on the State of Endangered Wildlife designated Nahanni Aster as an endangered species in 2018. Canada Park then began investigating the flower again.

Biologist Suzanne Carriere said that this flower is a gift that residents of the Northwest Territories should be proud of, but they also have a responsibility to protect it. (M.Beaujot/Canada Park)

Arnold, an ecologist at the park, said that the 2019 survey was more thorough than any survey they had done with Aster in the past. Since the data collection method they used is different from the 2003 site survey and little is known about the findings in the 1970s, it is difficult to compare their results with the past, but she said that follow-up research will follow the same method; recent The evaluation will serve as a benchmark for the future.

The Canadian Parks team plans to conduct another survey in 2026.

Carriere said that residents of the Northwest Territories should be proud of having a unique species that survived the last ice age and be responsible for its survival.

“I know this is just a plant, but it is information from the past,” she said. “‘Hey, I survived the last ice age,’ said the plant.’I use those hot springs to survive, so try not to ruin me, so that I can be there in the future so that all our descendants can see .'”

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