The Carolinian Region of Southern Ontario is one of the most ecologically diverse areas of Canada and is home to an incredible array of flora and fauna. This natural wealth includes thousands of plant and insect species, hundreds of bird and fish species, and dozens of mammals, amphibians and reptiles. The high biodiversity of the Carolinian Region occurs because of the area’s proximity to rich ecosystems to the south, the temperate climate, and the variety of habitat types found in southernmost Ontario, including forests, savanna, grasslands, various wetland types, lakes and shorelines.
The Carolinian Region is also home to the largest concentration of people in Canada, which has put great pressure on nature here. With high natural biodiversity, a large and growing human population and mostly private landownership, it is not surprising that the Carolinian Region sadly boasts the highest concentration of imperiled flora and fauna in Canada, with over 160 designated “at risk” species.
To help address these challenges, LPBLT focuses its conservation actions on the protection of functioning natural systems, such as watersheds, and priority habitats such as woodlands, wetlands and savanna. Across southern Ontario, over 85 percent of intact forests, over 99 percent of original oak savanna and about 75 percent of wetlands have been lost since European settlement. Some parts of our region, such as Norfolk, have somewhat more natural habitat than surrounding counties providing excellent opportunities for conservation and restoration, but the need and urgency remains across the Carolinian Region.
Some wildlife species are particularly threatened, such as grassland birds and reptiles. Reptiles, for example, are vulnerable to habitat loss and multiple other threats related to high human population, such as roadways. As a result, the majority of our reptile species are now designated at risk and many people fear that populations will continue to decline. In response to this urgent threat, LPBLT has developed a major, multi-year conservation effort to help protect reptiles and other species at risk. The protection and recovery of species at risk is also a consideration in the selection of potential properties for the land trust’s nature reserve system.
CONSERVING CAROLINIAN REPTILES
With a mission that includes the protection of natural habitats and biodiversity, and the recovery of species at risk, the Long Point Basin Land Trust is greatly concerned about the status and well-being of our region’s turtle and snake species. With this in mind, the Land Trust is starting a new conservation and outreach program to help protect and recover reptile populations in the region.
The “Conserving Carolinian Reptiles” project will aid the recovery and conservation of reptile species at risk and their habitats and build community support and public participation in reptile conservation efforts. A key part of the program will be documenting reptile population status and trends and identifying important habitats. You can assist with this effort by reporting reptile sightings in the Long Point area on this website
Our six year effort to help reptiles at risk in the Longpoint Basin is bearing fruit. LPBLT recently commissioned an indepth review of the impact of the Conserving Carolinian Reptiles project and found that our project is having an impact:
TURKEY POINT PICETUM
Long Point Basin Land Trust has worked with Dr. Alan Gordon since 1998 to help
preserve a unique and globally significant collection of spruce trees (Picea) that have
been assembled from around the world. These trees are an important source of genetic material that, if lost, can never be replaced. Many of the source populations of these trees (from places as far away as China) have disappeared.
This reserve is part of the South Walsingham ANSI and is a provincially significant wetland as well as a good example of Carolinian forest. The portion of the property that was in agriculture has been restored by volunteers with a mixture of tree species that are found on site. This 98 acre reserve is owned and managed by the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC). LPBLT worked with the NCC to raise the funds to purchase the site and has been responsible for restoring it.