The Long Point Biosphere Region (LPBR) joins with the many friends and family members  mourning the March 27, 2024 passing of Jim Wilson, a highly respected and valued LPBR volunteer.  Jim loved the outdoors, camping, fishing, and canoeing, and this led him to active involvement in the drive to preserve Norfolk County’s natural heritage.

Jim began working with the Biosphere in 1995 as a manager when the first Smithsonian Institution / EMAN (Ecological Management Assessment Network) survey plot was installed in Backus Woods.  This project, initiated with the help of area school students, was an inspiring start to broader ecological monitoring efforts in the area and the basis for better reporting on ecosystem changes.

Jim then took over the Biosphere salamander monitoring program and led it as a volunteer for two decades.  His work created one of the longest-running data sets on salamanders in North America and helped establish the stability of terrestrial salamander populations in our region.  This achievement was documented and confirmed in recent years by Dr. Pat Chow-Frasier’s lab at MacMaster University.

For this work, Jim was honoured with the Dr. Thomas Brydges Award at an EMAN national gathering. The award recognizes “volunteers who demonstrate enthusiastic leadership and commitment to advance ecological monitoring and research in Canada.”

Jim’s dedication benefited the Long Point Biosphere in many ways beyond the salamander program drawing media and broad public interest.  He and his son Nick (both are pictured together here), who served as Biosphere President for several years, were, for example, featured in the popular TVO documentary Striking Balance. The documentary showcased the important link between salamander populations and the overall health of Southern Ontario’s Carolinian Forest.

“Dad was always proud of the work he did with the Long Point Biosphere and loved to share pictures and stories about it whenever he could,” said Nick Wilson, adding that he was glad to have the opportunity to spend so much time over the years sharing in one of his father’s great passions. “Dad understood the importance of the work we were doing and showed a real commitment to it.”

His family has asked that donations be made to the Biosphere or the London Regional Cancer Program in Jim’s memory.

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