North Sydenham River Habitat Creation and Enhancement Project, 2014-15
Goals and Objectives
The purpose of this project is to create/restore 18 acres of wildlife habitat, including 15 acres of wetland and 3 acres of upland habitat and riparian habitat.
These properties are mainly agricultural in practice, as are many other adjacent properties in the area. By retiring fragile wet or seasonally wet agricultural fields and in this area the land will be restored to wetland habitat and will not only improve habitat conditions but will also return the area to its natural state.
The goals of this project are:
1) Conserve Wildlife Habitat by securing 15 acres of waterfowl habitat
2) Create and enhance Wildlife Habitat
3) Restore upland habitat and riparian areas with 1.2 ha (3 acres) of native grasses
Specific Habitat Products/Results Supported by WHC’s Contributions
As a result of WHC’s contribution to this wetland restoration project, agricultural land in southwestern Ontario will be retired and returned to crucial wetland and wildlife habitat for waterfowl and migratory game birds. These converted lands will boast native emergent vegetation to provide feeding and shelter habitat for wetland species and native grass and forbes planting nearby will provide feeding and shelter habitat for migratory game birds.
Relevance to Habitat Planning, Decision Making and/or Management
The North Sydenham River Habitat Creation and Enhancement project will protect wetlands and preserve diversity in an area that has been largely drained for agriculture. Creation and enhancement of the wetlands is extremely important not only for natural heritage and biodiversity but also for maintaining base flow to watercourses and improving water quality through water filtering functions. Wetlands also provide valuable social and educational resources while also acting as carbon sinks and filtering the air. Environment Canada has provided guidelines indicating that greater than 6% of each major sub watershed should be in wetland habitat; or the original percentage of wetlands should be restored. Widespread drainage works over the past 150 years have reduced the wetland cover to less than 1% in the entire St. Clair Region watershed. Lambton County went from 12, 918 ha (4.5%) of wetland area in 1982 to 5,092 ha (1.8%) in 2002.
The North Sydenham is located in an area of conservation interest given the proximity to Lake St. Clair, one of the most significant bird staging areas in Southwestern Ontario. In addition to the close proximity to this diverse water body several provincially significant wetlands are also in close proximity to the project areas.
The Sydenham River is composed of two branches the main east branch and the north branch which is the target location for this project and where the properties are located. The North Branch of the Sydenham River is an important wildlife corridor designed for habitat and travel for many species, including some species at risk, and is one of the most diverse rivers whose watershed is located entirely within the Carolinian Life Zone. The North Sydenham River also links several of the provincially and locally significant wetlands and riparian habitats to other habitat areas downstream.
For more information on this project, please contact Kelli Smith, Biological Technician, St. Clair Region Conservation Authority, Strathroy, ON.