A mosaic of Crown Lands, Provincial Parks and other lands in natural cover supplies a reservoir of natural spaces and species. Covering 90% of the region the natural lands of The Land Between are relatively continuous compared to anywhere to the south. Therefore the region provides key ecological services such as water recharge and discharge, water filtration, carbon sinks, seed banks and dispersal, as well as shelter for species and people alike.
Unique communities that are found primarily, if not only, in this region form part of The Land Between’s natural system:
Atlantic Coastal Plain Communities are marsh communities associated with sandy or gravely shorelines. The name of these communities reflects the relic species that at the sites which are adapted to fluctuating water levels. These species have persisted in these areas for over 10,000 years. Although rare communities themselves and also containing rare species, they are found in areas throughout The Land Between. In the fall, these shorelines stand out in shimmers of purple and auburn as the flowers of the Virginia Meadow Beauty emerge. Bass Island, Cold Water Lake, Eilean Gowan Island, Big Chute, and Kawartha Highlands Provincial Park are just a few of the Crown Land sites that host Atlantic Coastal Plain species. More information on these special places is available through the Natural Heritage Information Centre (External Link)
More information on these exceptional shorelines and meadow marshes, as well as their conservation, is available through NatureServe Canada (External Link)
Alvars are globally rare habitats and found only around the Great Lakes in North America, and in Sweden at the Baltic Sea. Within Ontario, the majority of alvars are found within The Land Between! Seemingly desolate, alvars are open and flat areas, with exposed limestone bedrock and very shallow soils. Sparse vegetation such as lichens, mosses, herbs and shrubs predominate, and very few trees take hold. However, in early summer, scores of unique grassland and rare birds arrive. Throughout the summer alvars are buzzing with incredibly diverse insect communities including butterflies, and in the fall, these bare areas alight with an array of colours from flowering wildflowers and prairie species.
Alvars have been called Nature’s rock gardens. Learn more about alvars and alvar conservation in the Great Lakes Basins, by visiting www.natureconservancy.ca (External Link)
Wetlands (Marshes, Swamps, Fens, and Bogs) as well as small lakes are abundant across The Land Between. Situated sinuously between rock ridges, these habitats often persist because of the ingenuity and work of the beaver population. Wetlands contain specially adapted water-loving plants, and organic sponge-like soils. Together these elements provide for increased water regulation and are also Nature’s water filters. The wetlands and lakes in The Land Between are mostly connected to one another and surrounding lands have thin soils, making nutrient loading and migrating pollution an issue. Fore more wetland facts, including how to conserve, restore and manage these vital areas, see www.ducks.ca (External Link)
Barrens and Plains are areas of exposed bedrock and which contain a very thin layer, if at all, of soil.
Primary and secondary succession species such as lichens and mosses, grasses and sometimes junipers, red oaks and poplars will proliferate here. The exposed rock taking up summer heat is a perfect basking spot for many insects and reptiles, and so barrens support populations of the rare Five-lined Skink and turtles. Other species associated with these open communities include Whip-poor-will and Common Nighthawk, both declining species, and the Dark-eyed Junco, which is near the southern limit of its breeding range in The Land Between. Because of the extremely shallow soils, the vegetation that takes hold is sensitive to disruption. For a list of protected and public spaces which showcase these dynamic habitats, please visit our Tours and Destinations page
Protected areas that will stay in a natural state; lands providing natural linkages also known as greenways or corridors that support the movement of flora and fauna; or large roadless areas that are mostly undisturbed, together form a system of greenspace that is unequalled in Southern Ontario.
Within this system lands that have rare habitats, endangered and threatened species, or that provide important ecological services such as water recharge, are areas that warrant greater stewardship and conservation, so that the natural system of The Land Between remains viable.
The Land Between has been working with the Natural Heritage Information Centre, Ministry of Natural Resources, Ducks Unlimited Canada, and land trusts across the region to map and characterize important features and communities. Summaries and findings will be made available on our Publications page and Science and Discoveries Page.
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