Last year, the United Nations released a landmark report on biodiversity around the globe. Its findings show that more than one million species of plants and animals are threatened with extinction—in large part because of human activities, including unsustainable farming practices, logging, overfishing, poaching and pollution.
A prime example of this habitat loss comes from the Canadian Grasslands, a vast ecosystem that stretches across Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. Today, about 25% of the native grasslands remain. Most of the grasslands have been intensely altered to cultivate crops. Other sections have been fragmented to build cities and roads, resulting in the loss of natural habitats, such as prairies, forests and wetlands, which keep air and water clean, and prevent flooding through natural filtration systems.
Part of learning how we can protect our grasslands is becoming more familiar with the native plants that give Canada its unique beauty and make the planet more liveable. Public gardens and botanic research centres, such as the Aga Khan Garden in Edmonton, grant us opportunities to learn about and build connections with nature.
“The garden tradition is the high calling of human stewardship, our responsibility to honour, to protect and to share the gifts of the natural world,” said His Highness the Aga Khan at the inauguration of the garden in 2018.
As the world’s northern-most Islamic garden, Edmonton’s Aga Khan Garden was designed with a mix of native and non-native plants, reflecting the harmonious relationship between the aesthetic and spiritual traditions of the Muslim world and the lands that make up Canada today. This photo essay features some of the native prairie plants that you may encounter on your next visit to the garden.