A rare, ancient inland sand dune in south Ottawa has survived 10,000 years, a product of the last ice age, but conservationists say it needs to be protected from trees that don't belong.

The Pinhey Sand Dune, located off Slack Road, is part of the National Capital Commission's greenbelt. It is home to plants and insects that only live in sand dunes and which can't be found anywhere else in Ottawa.

Less than 100 years ago, the dune was 10 times larger than it is now, according to conservation groups, but the area has been developed and thousands of trees were planted in the dune over the years.


Dr. Peter Dang, here pointing to the robber fly, has been working to clear trees with his colleagues. (Meredith O'Hara/CBC)

That is why local conservationists, including Dr. Dick de Jong, have worked to clear the trees for the past two years. Now volunteers need to step up to help prevent more trees from growing and harming those plants and insects that only live in the dune, de Jong said.

"We have collected volunteers from wherever we can find them and try and get them to come once and hopefully they will want to come back," said de Jong, a director with the group SOS Dunes.

The conservation groups will have to relinquish their duties as federal government grants run out, so they are urging community members to take over.

During Sundays in September, SOS Dunes is calling on people to help volunteer. If the volunteer base does not grow, the conservation group warns the dune's ecosystem would ultimately collapse