Fields and Forests and Flowers, Oh My!
Ruth Thomson has donated a 42-acre Conservation Easement to the Escarpment Biosphere Conservancy. Her property is east of Highway 6 between Mount Forest and Durham. The property has farm fields, forested wetlands and a tributary of the Upper Main Saugeen River Watershed.
The White Cedar swamp is part of an area designated as Significant Woodlands by the Grey County Official Plan. This designation identifies the woodlands as part of a Natural Heritage System. The Saugeen Kame Terraces Provincial Earth Science Area of Natural or Scientific Interest (ANSI) occurs east of the Property and a few County Forests are scattered north of the property.
The farm fields provide habitat for grassland birds including the Eastern Meadowlark, a species designated as Threatened by both the Ontario Endangered Species Act (ESA) and the Canadian Species at Risk Act (SARA). These fields have milkweed plants that are obligate hosts for Monarch Butterflies. Females lay eggs on milkweed plants because the caterpillars feed exclusively on milkweed leaves. Monarchs are species of Special Concern listed on both the ESA and SARA. One of the existing fields is actively farmed allowing only sensible low-impact farming practices, those farming types that demand high inputs of pesticides are not welcome. The remaining fields have been left to regenerate and are undergoing natural succession.
The wetlands on the Property are dominated by Eastern White Cedar. In some areas, the trees are so dense that sunlight cannot penetrate through the canopy. Ground cover in these areas is very scarce. Other parts of the forest are more open allowing sunlight through and along with it, a highly diverse under-story. The forest is dominated by native species including large numbers of Showy Orchids, Dwarf Raspberry and other wetland species.
We thank Ruth for this generous agreement to protect her property in perpetuity as a sanctuary for nature.