Staff at Ontario Nature, with the ongoing help of people from Lambton Wildlife and Sydenham Field Naturalists, are 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 a 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, a type of tree found only within the reserve. 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 with 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 including the spiny softshell turtle. 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.