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Species at Risk

Fernald’s Braya

Braya fernaldii

Why protect Fernald’s Braya?

Species at Risk - Who Knew?

Quarrying and road construction are serious threats to this species. However, since Braya grows well in disturbed areas, it may colonize the abandoned portions of quarries or the gravel shoulders of highways and airfields! In turn, these new sites can be damaged by quarry operation, grading, or excessive road traffic.

There are many reasons why a plant such as Fernald’s Braya should be saved:

  • It contributes to the Earth’s biodiversity. It has a unique genetic make-up and is found nowhere else.
  • It is part of a group of rare plants adapted to extreme environments
  • It is one of the few plants that can colonize bare limestone soil.
  • It beautifies limestone barrens.
  • It fascinates nature lovers.

Before Fernald’s Braya was listed as a threatened species, few people realized how fragile its habitat was and how much damage it had suffered in the past 25 years.

The plant’s designation as a threatened species prompted Newfoundlanders to set up the Limestone Barrens Habitat Stewardship Program. Today, all elements of this ecosystem benefit from recovery efforts targeting Fernald’s Braya.

What is Parks Canada doing to save Fernald’s Braya?

Parks Canada is a member of the Limestone Barrens Species at Risk Recovery Team, which consists of representatives of the federal and provincial governments, universities and concerned members of the general public. This team works to protect limestone barrens plants, like Fernald’s Braya, and their habitat.

  • Parks Canada and its partners on the Recovery Team:
  • monitor Braya population and their health;
  • study the braya’s ecological requirements;
  • assess the impact of herbivores and diseases on braya populations and test methods of protecting the plants;
  • support the Memorial University of Newfoundland Botanical Garden in developing cultivation and propagation techniques for the plant and maintaining a seed bank and braya nursery to provide a backup source of specimens;
  • compare brayas from different populations to determine whether there are any physical differences among them; and
  • supply braya seeds to the Canadian National Seed Bank.

With its habitat stewardship partners, Parks Canada:

    Two scientists using a frame on the ground to facilitate an inventory of Fernald’s Braya plants. The land is almost completely bare and it basically looks like a field of gravel.
    Scientists carry out an inventory of Fernald’s Braya populations.
    © Dulcie House / Limestone Barrens Habitat Stewardship Program
  • carries out interpretation and public education activities at the Port au Choix National Historic Site;
  • supports public awareness and education activities carried out by young people on the Port au Choix Green Team;
  • cooperates with a fishermen’s committee to manage access to limestone barrens at Port au Choix;
  • supports efforts to sign a stewardship agreement with the municipality of Port au Choix;
  • helps to develop educational material about limestone barrens (posters, brochures, Web site, meetings and art project); and
  • produced interpretation panels about the limestone barrens for Port au Choix National Historic Site (geology, climate, vegetation, and where to see other limestone barrens).