ECO HERO OF THE MONTH
Born in the UK, I moved to Ontario back in 2018 for a life filled with more space and nature. I have worked in the hospitality industry for 19 years, and learnt more life skills than imaginable in this time, also studying Animal Management at Writtle College, England while in my early 20s. This course included a wonderful variety of modules, including; Animal science, Wildlife rehabilitation, Animal training and Zoology, though now my work with wildlife is based purely on passion. I found a love for travelling in 2014 and have visited 23 countries now, volunteering with wildlife along the way, while observing and logging species.
Thank you, Chloe, for your great contribution.
1. Aside from your official job title, how would you describe the work that you currently do?
I monitor local trails and conservation areas in the Halton and Hamilton region, logging and mapping species populations using iNaturalist. This allows myself, and local biologists to see trends in populations, have better knowledge of invasive species and the effects climate change is having on the native wildlife. I also use my photography and media platforms along the way to share each expedition with my followers, encouraging them to get outside, highlighting great ways we can all do our part to help the planet, and where to start.
2. How is your role and your work changing as a result of growing awareness and action in the response to the Climate Crisis?
I have always loved the outdoors; hiking, bird watching and wildlife photography, but I didn’t start logging wildlife until the technology came along. The passion started with journals, and when Covid hit at the same time as spring, I was out daily. This is when I rediscovered iNaturalist; an app that will name a species, whether plant, fungi or animal, when you simply add a photo. There is also eBird which I use in tandem just for our feathered friends. By entering all this information, not only do I have a digital log of my findings, with dates and locations, but so do biologists and conservationists. This data can help monitor endangered/invasive species, see the effects of climate change on our natural world, while engaging people with native wildlife and trying to save it.
3. Can you describe one or more events that led you to pursue this career path?
The Natural world was a BBC 2 nature documentary narrated by David Attenborough. One of my first memories was watching this show every Sunday, followed by Big Cat Diary with Simon King. I was just 5 year old. I was fascinated by everything I saw; the way the Cheetah blended in with the long grass as it stalked its prey, not knowing that this was something called evolution. The way the Bird of paradise danced in courtship with phenomenal feathers. From that day, the natural world was all I wanted to know; how did it work, how did it affect us, and in turn how did we affect it.
4. When has it been tough doing this work; and what have you done to carry on?
Within the 4 years I have been logging wildlife in Canada alone, the decline in certain species is very apparent. For instance, in 2018 I remember swarms of Monarch butterflies flew overhead in Oakville, and they were not so hard to find. Last summer was not the same, and in fact there has been a population decrease of over 80% in the last 2 decades due to increased severe weather on migration and habitat loss. Then there’s the North Atlantic Right Whale, which has just over 300 individuals alive today. The species has lost 10% of its population since 2017, most of these deaths due to ship strikes and fishing gear entanglement. These reports are hard to take, and realizing our natural world is slipping away faster than ever, it’s tough to keep hope some days. Though realizing I can plant Milkweed in my garden to help Monarch migrators keeps me positive. Visiting The Great Whale exhibition at The ROM, educating myself on the current situation and what I can do to help, keeps me positive. Hope and knowledge are crucial for change.
5. What advice would you share with young environmentalists?
Find the positive news too. With the planet in its current state, and the media engulfing our lives with more negative news than ever before, it’s easy to get overwhelmed, and important to stay optimistic. People care more than ever and there is incredible work being done across the globe by conservationists. Be part of the solution and focus on every step you take for positive change, and keep going!
6. What do you feel is the most pressing issue facing our planet?
World leaders not doing enough. Western countries have not seen the full extent of climate change yet, not like neighboring third world countries, who have been suffering for decades already. Sadly, until more natural disasters start knocking on our doors, I don’t think enough will be done, and by that time it could be too late to prevent serious changes.
THE ECO HALL OF FAME