Owls Head has long been surrounded and shaped by the ocean. The rugged landscape reflects the legacy of the ice age, and the hardy ecosystems that developed after the ice retreated mirror the unique environment in which rare plant communities now thrive.
How do we put a value on Owls Head Provincial Park?
There have been few valuations for rare plants, let alone globally rare plant communities. For example, a rare Shenzhen Nongke orchid is valued at $202,000 per plant. We would need to do a series of transects and plots at Owls Head Provincial Park to get an honest number of the rare plants and communities to put into the economic calculus of a ” balanced ” view.
“A mature tree can have an appraised value of between $1,000 and $10,000.” So let’s do a survey of all the ancient coastal white spruce stands at Owls head and put an average value of $2000 on the individual specimens, but let’s be fair and only value the trees that are 75-100+ years old, the ones impossible to replace in a lifetime.
The proposed development would require large amounts of fill. Therefore, sediments would run into the marine areas, negatively affecting sensitive eelgrass beds and salt marsh habitats.
Once established as golf courses, the use of pesticides and the threat of runoff of toxic chemicals (during rainfall events or through the site’s interconnected hydrology) would threaten these same marine areas.
“For a large development such as golf courses, the construction and subsequent run-off from the land as well as increased nutrient loads all have the potential to negatively impact these ecosystems.”
“Owls Head is characterized by repeating bedrock ridges that support a coastal barrens ecosystem. A globally rare heathland plant community occurs on the crests of the ridges and biodiverse bog wetlands predominate in the depressions between the ridges. This landscape pattern on the coast is only otherwise known from Blue Rocks, Lunenburg County, amidst residential developments with no conservation protection.”