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Ontario Nature aims to protect biodiversity hotspot

Ambitious plans unveiled to create Sydenham River Nature Reserve

Sydenham River rainbow © Dawne Mudford

Petrolia, May 31, 2016–Ontario Nature is working to create the Sydenham River Nature Reserve, its first-ever riverine nature reserve. Located in the Lake Erie Lowlands, the biologically diverse property spans 78 hectares. Home to at least 23 species at risk, the green oasis features rare Carolinian ecosystem along the Sydenham River.

Acting as a crucial link in the Greenway, the reserve’s Carolinian forest is home to the Kentucky coffee-tree. The Carolinian forest is home to the endangered cerulean warbler and acts as a vital stopover for many migrating songbirds. A two-kilometre stretch of the Sydenham River, one of Ontario’s healthiest waterways, runs through the reserve.

“What makes the Sydenham River even more important,” says Caroline Schultz, executive director of Ontario Nature, “is that its watershed is the only significant one located entirely within Ontario’s Carolinian zone.”

As one of Ontario’s most biodiverse waterways, the river provides critical habitat for species at risk. At least 34 different species of freshwater river mussels thrive in the river including nine endangered species.

“The region is one of the last remaining connected green corridors in southwestern Ontario that is not along the shorelines of the Great Lakes,” says Tanya Pulfer, conservation science manager with Ontario Nature. “But it will only be there if we don’t let up our efforts to preserve it.”

Sydenham Field Naturalists and Lambton Wildlife are working with Ontario Nature to acquire and maintain the Sydenham River Nature Reserve. Local community members can help protect this rare ecosystem by donating. For more information on the Sydenham River Nature Reserve, visit ontarionature.org/sydenham.


For media inquiries and photos, please contact: John Hassell, Ontario Nature: 416-786-2171, johnh@ontarionature.org

Ontario Nature protects wild species and wild spaces through conservation, education and public engagement. Ontario Nature is a charitable organization representing more than 30,000 members and supporters, and 150 member groups across Ontario (see ontarionature.org).