Ed Andrews and Keith Nicol
Two Sir Wilfred Grenfell College
professors have developed a training
and resource manual for guides at
the Burnt Island Ecological Reserve in
Biology professor Ed Andrews (right) and
geography professor Keith Nicol
studied the Burnt Island Ecological Reserve before
writing the manual and providing initial training for the guides. The goal
of the manual is to assist naturalists, interpreters and guides in the
stewardship of the reserve.
The establishment of the reserve is the result of a
partnership between the Nature Conservancy of Canada, Parks and
Natural Areas Division of the provincial government, and the town of
Raleigh. Grenfell College's role in the project was co-ordinated by the
college's Applied Research Unit. The unit is a single point of contact for
businesses, organizations and individuals interested in utilizing
the expertise, services or resources at Sir Wilfred Grenfell College.
Mr. Andrews and Mr. Nicol compiled information in the
manual that would be useful to people with a limited geological and
biological background, everything from historical and
climate-related information to the identification of plants and geological
formations. Mr. Andrews and Mr. Nicol also provided a two-day immersion course
for the two guides selected for the reserve's first tourist season,
last summer. As well, the two professors left the guides with a
photographic record of the plants and formations in the area, and a
comprehensive list of the kinds of equipment necessary to properly act as
guardians of the reserve.
Burnt Island, or Burnt Cape, as it is known locally, is
an elevated coastal site situated at the tip of the Northern
Peninsula. Burnt Island is considered one of the most important botanical sites
on the island of Newfoundland, because of the high number of rare plant
species. Although the importance of the area was documented as
early as 1925, it wasn't recognized as a provincial reserve and
protected under the Wilderness and Ecological Reserves Act until early
The reserve is essentially a large limestone dome formed
through glaciation. Several marine shelves or steps form the
coastal edge of the reserve, which boast a number of majestic sea caves
and “cannon holes” — small rounded holes in limestone.
“The most impressive part of the reserve to me is the
enormous Whale Cave,” said Mr. Nicol. “This is a monstrous sea cave —
I've talked to several geologists who travelled there and they say
they've never seen anything bigger.”
The reserve contains 301 species of vascular plants, 35
of them are rare in the province, and one that's not found anywhere
else in the world — the Burnt Cape Cinquefoil.
Burnt Island has the shortest growing season, lowest summer
temperatures and lowest annual temperature of any
coastal town location in Newfoundland. Because of the area's
elevation and exposure, its climate is extremely severe. In this harsh
landscape grows an interesting mix of plants — Arctic species, as
well as plants which flourish in the warmer temperatures brought by the
Gulf of St. Lawrence.
The reserve is also an excellent place to observe
icebergs, whales, and on a clear day, the coast of Labrador. In addition,
interesting fossils are located at the head of Burnt Cape.
“The reserve contains aspects that are important from
cultural, biological and geological points of view,” said Mr.