SCA Goes International to Restore Urban Forests in Canada with Domtar
On September 23rd, SCA volunteers went international to help protect urban forests in Canada — teaming up with national supporter Domtar to restore Parc Thomas-Chapais in Montreal.
Since 2012, Domtar has partnered with SCA to support SCA’s youth conservation crews in cities across the US, as well as local restoration projects in communities where Domtar employees live and work in the US and Canada. After a summer leading conservation projects with volunteers in the US, young SCA crew leaders were excited to travel across borders from New York to help facilitate conservation service in Montreal side-by-side with Domtar employees.
Over 70 volunteers gathered at Parc Thomas-Chapais, a community park offering an oasis of forest in the struggling Mercier–Hochelaga-Maisonneuve borough of Montreal. In this challenged neighborhood, community organizations are coming together to revitalize and re-green.
To organize the project, SCA teamed up with Y’a QuelQu’un l’aut’bord du mur (There’s Someone on the Other Side of the Wall):
“Y’a QuelQu’un l’aut’bord du mur est une entreprise d’économie sociale qui gère des projets environnementaux novateurs améliorant la qualité de vie des citoyens-nes. Grâce à une subvention de la Fondation Hydro-Québec pour l’environnement, YQQ et l’éco-quartier Mercier-Hochelaga-Maisonneuve effectuent des efforts pour préserver la biodiversité du Parc Thomas-Chapais,” said Charlotte Jacques, Ecoresponsibility Advisor for Éco-quartier Mercier–Hochelaga-Maisonneuve.
“YQQ is a social economy organization that manages innovative environmental projects that improve the citizens’ quality of life… We started out doing a lot of graffitti cleanup projects, and this name helps convey the idea that there is always someone on the other side of the wall, always a neighbor who is effected by your actions in your community.”
Guided by SCA leaders and staff from YQQ, Domtar employee volunteers and families set out to cut back invasive buckthorn — a plant originally brought to Canada as an ornamental, now rampaging through local forests and pushing out the iconic sugar maple and other native Canadian trees.
“Le nerprun est une plante envahissante qui colonise donc les boisés, remplaçant la flore indigène [The invasive buckthorn colonizes various parks, replacing the indigenous flora],” Charlotte explained. “By removing large quantities of this invasive species, Domtar volunteers are furthering the efforts to preserve biodiversity in the park. [Le travail accompli par les bénévoles de Domtar a permis de retirer une quantité importante de nerprun du boisé, permettant donc l’avancement du projet de préservation de la biodiversité.]”
Some volunteers dug in with shovels to get larger specimens out by the root, while the youngest participants — including 2-year-old Alexandre — pulled out small plants by hand. Throughout the day, volunteers conversed in multiple languages, including English, French, and Spanish, as volunteers from the Maria Luisa Foundation joined the efforts alongside Domtar employees and families.
“We don’t just work in Montreal, we live here, so giving back to the community is important to both Domtar and our employees,” said Domtar’s President and Chief Executive Oﬃcer John D. Williams. “By partnering with the Student Conservation Association, we’re able to advance SCA’s mission of building the next generation of conservation leaders.”
By the end of the day, volunteers had eradicated 150 cubic meters of buckthorn from the park (more than 16 truck loads), leaving room for new sugar maple seedlings and native wildflowers to grow in their place. In addition, they had cleared 68 pounds of trash from park trails — and enjoyed an eco-friendly lunch with all compostable utensils and packaging, ensuring that 13 pounds of organic matter and 12 pounds of recyclables stayed out of landfills.
“Nous sommes très reconnaissants de l’aide apportée,” said Charlotte on behalf of YQQ. “We are very thankful for all the work that was accomplished!”
Saturday’s event followed successful partnership projects with Domtar in the past year in British Columbia, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania. Big thanks to Domtar for their continuing support of SCA programs across the country!
Read more about Domtar’s partnership with SCA.