AD{TS2600654} AD{TS2602418} AD{TS2600734} 8 Wallaceburg Courier Press ? Thursday, September 5, 2013

Carolinian Canada Coalition protects species-at-risk

John Phair QMI Agency As the northern terminus of the Carolinian life zone, Southwestern Ontario is home to a plethora of biological and ecological features that can?t be found anywhere else in Canada. But as director of ecosystem recovery with Carolinian Canada, Jarmo Jalava says when he tells people he;s employed by Carolinian Canada, they usually assume his job is to protect Ontario?s Carolinian forest. While that?s true, Jalava stresses there?s a lot more to the Carolinian life zone than trees and forests. He was guest speaker at the Christian Farmers Federation of Chatham-Kent?s annual picnic, held Aug. 16 in Thamesville. The Carolinian life zone, Jalava said, is part of an ecological region that extends from Southwestern Ontario into the American Carolinas, hence its name. ?Many of the plants and animals common in the Carolinas are common here,? he said. He added that the Ontario portion -- which along with a number of counties in Southwestern, Ontario takes in the Greater


John Phair QMI Agency Jarmo Jalava is the director of ecosystem recovery for Carolinian Canada. Toronto Area -- includes the Niagara Escarpment and Long Point, both globally-recognized and designated UNESCO World Reserves. ?While from an Ontario perspective this region may seem like a fairly large geographical area, it is really just a sliver and occupies


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only one-quarter of one per cent of Canada?s land mass,? he said. Yet, within that sliver is contained 40% of Canadsa?s plant and animal species. ?Half of Canada?s bird species, two-thirds of its reptile species are found within this region as well as some major wetlands along the Great Lakes Coastal area such as the Rondeau Bay Marshes.? Jalava added that the area also encompasses the Sydenham and Thames Rivers systems, which are also home to many interesting species. ?Some of the last known species of fresh water muscles are found in the Sydenham River,? he noted, adding that some significant bird breeding and migration areas can be found in Elgin County, Point Pelee and Rondeau Bay areas. ?These are significant birding areas that are recognized globally.? From an Ontario perspective, Jalava said one of the things that make the Carolinian zone special are the many species have reached the northern edge of their range limits. ?In other words, they are not found any farther north than here. ?Species like the Tulip Tree and a whole range of plant and animal species are not found anywhere else in Canada.? Jalava said that while the area is so special in terms of its biology and ecology, another unique thing about Ontario?s portion of the Carolinian zone is that it?s situated within one of the Canada?s heaviestpopulated areas. That has major ramifications for many of the unique species. ?There are cities, industry, transportation corridors, recreational areas that are well used and this all has a major impact. ?And, of course, the main land use in the Carolinian area is agriculture because of the very rich and productive soil, which is the feature that attracted everybody here in the first place.? As a consequence, of all that biological and ecological diversity placed so close to a large population had led to Canada?s largest number of species deemed to be at risk. ?This is because they?ve been squeezed into a small area of the landscape,? he said, adding that many of the species are endangered because their habitats have been reduced and are also at risk. He added that certain plant species can only survive in the interior of the forest because certain conditions such as light coming in from the forest?s perimeter, or the presence of predators make it necessary that they need the interior of the forest and that is the habitat that is being lost. He noted there are presently 160 species-at-risk occur in the Carolinian life zone. Jalava said Carolinian Canada tries to co-ordinate an efficient approach to recovering this landscape into a more functional, healthy and economically viable landscape. ?We accomplish that in part by educating the public so they can adopt an informed way of working together to restore that natural environment in a way that sustains, not only the plant and animal life, but our human communities as well. ?We do that by linking individuals and private groups with local and global organizations, government agencies and municipalities etc.? He said the organization?s longterm vision is the restore the land into healthy, functioning landscapes and linking them up so animals can move unimpeded in an environment that with healthy waterways that reduce erosion, maintain trees, and good water quality. ?We see rebuilding the ecology as a safety net for human communities, which helps protect against flooding and improves water and soil quality.? He added that the organization considers all this also contribute to a thriving economy. ?We work with stakeholders in developing long-term strategies that everyone can buy into,? he said, adding they are looking for land owners who are interested natural heritage maintenance. ?We want to work with landowners who want to set an example for natural heritage planning.? He added that along providing educational speakers for events Carolinian Canada provides schools with teaching kits pertaining to species-at-risk. ?We try to build good relationships between groups and work with them towards a common goal of building a healthy ecosystem,? he said.

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