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Sydenham River Nature Reserve

A largely-wooded biodiversity oasis in a landscape dominated by cash crops such as corn and soybeans.

Virginia bluebells and Sydenham River © Smera Sukumar


Thanks to you, the Sydenham River Nature Reserve is a reality. Ontario Nature has purchased a spectacular 193-acre property – forever protecting one of Ontario’s most biodiverse waterways. Located in the Carolinian Life Zone, this new reserve brings Ontario Nature’s province-wide nature reserve system to 25 properties and more than 7,000 acres.

In 2014, two member groups – Lambton Wildlife and the Sydenham Field Naturalists – alerted Ontario Nature about a special property on the mussel-rich Sydenham River that was up for sale. After some initial discussions and exploring the property, in February 2016 Ontario Nature signed an agreement to purchase, pending raising $860,000.

The new Sydenham Nature Reserve was announced on December 19, 2016. Many individuals, foundations and organizations gave generously in support of this effort. Lambton Wildlife and the Sydenham Field Naturalists were instrumental in the fundraising, and now share the responsibility to steward the property with Ontario Nature.

Bluebells, Sydenham River Nature Reserve © Smera Sukumar

Plants and Animals

The new reserve saves a ribbon of extraordinary diversity of plants and animals in a region that is under intense pressure from development driven by hosting 25 percent of the Canadian population:

  • 23 species at risk including birds, plants, reptiles, fish and, of course, freshwater mussels;
  • 34 species of mussel, 11 of which are listed as at-risk provincially or nationally making the property the freshwater mussel capital of Canada;
  • Half of Ontario’s bird species breed in or pass through the area during migration.
Great spangled fritillary butterfly © Noah Cole


The reserve represents some of the provinces best remaining examples of imperiled and vulnerable habitats. An almost two-kilometre stretch of the Sydenham River winds through the middle of the property. Representing Ontario Nature’s first riverine reserve, the property is teeming with life.

This riverside property is a largely-wooded biodiversity oasis in a landscape dominated by cash crops such as corn and soybeans. It forms part of the Carolinian Canada Sydenham River Signature Site, so designated because it was identified as a critical natural area. There are major challenges conservation organizations face in sustaining the ecological connections and biodiversity along the river corridor.

Sydenham River Nature Reserve BioBlitz © David Coulson


The reserve is open to visitors and Ontario Nature is already planning to create new trails so that the public can explore this extraordinary landscape without damaging sensitive flora and fauna. If you have any questions, please contact Ontario Nature at 416-444-8419. 

View Sydenham River Nature Reserve in a larger map.

Sydenham River © David Coulson

Mushrooms at Sydenham River Nature Reserve © Smera Sukumar


Thank you to each of our determined members and supporters who helped protect this biodiverse property. Ontario Nature gratefully recognizes the following partners for their support: