Designated as internationally important under the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, the Minesing Wetlands are one of the largest and most diverse in southern Ontario. Located south of Wasaga Beach and west of Barrie, they are made up of over 6,000 hectares of fens, marshes, swamps and bogs. The wetlands filter the water flowing from the Nottawasaga River into Georgian Bay and provide natural flood protection for downstream communities.
Only about half of the size they were in the 1800s, the Minesing Wetlands are vulnerable to land clearing, drainage and the impacts of development in the surrounding landscape. Enhanced protection of adjacent lands is needed to improve connectivity and provide a buffer for the existing conservation lands and water recharge areas.
The Minesing Wetlands support many rare species including over 30 species at risk, such as little brown myotis, bobolink and eastern prairie fringed-orchid. They are the only known place in Canada to harbour the endangered Hine’s emerald dragonfly.
Species at risk such as lake sturgeon and northern brook lamprey can also be found in the Minesing Wetlands. Brian Morrison, Education Chair at the American Fisheries Society – Ontario Chapter, is also trying to raise awareness of a unique population of walleye that spawns in there: “It’s the only endemic population of wetland spawning walleye in the province, and only the second in the entire Great Lakes basin.”
The tremendous biodiversity value of the Minesing Wetlands deserves enhanced protection. That is why Ontario Nature and partner organizations have identified the Minesing Corridor as a priority candidate protected area. Permanently protecting the many parcels of unceded/Crown land adjacent to the Minesing Wetlands Conservation Area presents an excellent conservation opportunity.
Protecting these wetlands will also require efforts to address the impacts of development on nearby lands that threaten wetland functions and connectivity.
New development associated with the City of Midhurst, for example, has raised significant concern among local naturalists. Chris Evans of Nature Barrie explains that this development will extract vast amounts of groundwater to supply the new homes and dilute wastewater effluent, which may adversely impact the groundwater feeding the fens in the Minesing Wetlands. “I am afraid the Hine’s emerald is doomed, likely along with the eastern prairie fringed-orchids and many other fen specialists therein,” said Evans.
Call to Action
Internationally important ecosystems such as the Minesing Wetlands should be protected from development. Ontario Nature is working with local partners to advocate for the protection of places like the Minesing Wetlands through its Protected Places Campaign. Please visit our StoryMap to learn more about priority candidate protected areas.
Janice Lam is Ontario Nature's Protected Places GIS Assistant. She holds a Master’s of forest conservation from the University of Toronto and focused her capstone project on monitoring urban naturalization success at planting sites. She developed her love for nature through volunteering and travelling. Janice is passionate about conservation, enhancing urban green spaces and living sustainably. In her free time, she enjoys playing volleyball and spending time outdoors.