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Portraits from Nature's Death Row

Cowichan Garry Oak Preserve

The 52-acre Cowichan Garry Oak Preserve contains the largest scrap of deep-soil Garry woodland meadow left in Canada. Photo: Getty Images.

Death row does not look like you think it does. It has no bars or dreary walls, although it may have fences.

For hundreds of Canada's living creatures -- towering mammals, fluttering insects, humble plants and crawling reptiles -- death row may even look, to human eyes, a lot like Eden: "untouched" forest or thriving river bank. Its residents face death sentences nonetheless, as the last refuges of suitable habitat shrink and fragment at human hands.

Hundreds of plants and animals populate Canada's lists of endangered and threatened species. Meanwhile, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature is compiling a new global catalog of endangered ecosystems, each populated by numerous species at risk of extinction.

In this Tyee Solutions Society series, Chris Wood profiles what death row looks like for endangered species and their landscapes in three Canadian provinces.

In This Series


Cowichan Garry Oak Preserve

On Nature's Death Row: It Used to Be BC's 'Eden'

What's left of Vancouver Island's Garry Oak woodland is now a last stop for scores of species. First in a new series.

By Chris Wood, 28 Jan 2016


Blanding's Turtle

On Nature's Death Row: Ontario's Vanished 'Carolinian' Forest

It used to stretch from Oshawa to Windsor. Now, development encroaches on the last scraps of a once-great woods. Part of a series.

By Chris Wood, 4 Feb 2016



On Nature's Death Row: Alberta's Coveted Foothills Forest

After a century of occupation, this once mighty-mosaic of woods no longer provides adequate shelter for its 'refugees.' Part of a series.

By Chris Wood, 11 Feb 2016


Okanagan Valley sky

On Nature's Death Row: Squeezed Out by 'Lifestyle' in BC's Okanagan

Tough times for wine country's oldest denizens: boas and salamanders. Part of a series.

By Chris Wood, 18 Feb 2016



On Nature's Death Row: I Helped Commit Ecocide; So Did You

For many native species in Canada, our human settlements mean the end of the road. Last in a series.

By Chris Wood, 22 Feb 2016