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Areas of Natural and Scientific Interest

1.0 Introduction

Elke Meyfarth O'Hara, The Land Ethic Group                  November, 2005.

1.1 Background 

The Raisin Region Conservation Authority (RRCA) has developed a Natural Heritage Strategy (NHS). A natural heritage strategy is a document that provides direction in the design and management of natural heritage systems. It can be used to define conservation and protection objectives in land-use, watershed and resource planning. The purpose of a natural heritage strategy is twofold: 1) to protect natural heritage, including biodiversity, ecosystem health and landscape function; and 2) to produce a defensible document based on best available knowledge of ecological sciences and the current legislative and policy context.
 
This is one of a series of technical papers and fact sheets that provide detailed information and guidance on the natural heritage features and areas that form the RRCA’s Natural Heritage System. These papers serve as supporting documents for the RRCA’s NHS. Local municipalities, public and private agencies, private landowners, communities and individual citizens can use these papers to gain a better understanding of natural heritage issues in the RRCA’s jurisdiction. The papers can also be used to guide land use and development decisions.  
 
It is important to note that the technical papers were written prior to the NHS Phase 4 Report and some of the information may now be outdated.  The papers will be updated as time and resources permit. In addition, the various sections of each technical paper were written by different authors from both within and outside the RRCA. The author, date, and organization are listed at the beginning of each section. 

 1.2 What are Areas of Natural and Scientific Interest? 

Areas of natural and scientific interest (ANSIs), as defined in the Provincial Policy Statement (PPS) 2005, are areas of land and water containing natural landscapes or features that have been identified as having life science or earth science values related to protection, scientific study, or education. ANSIs are identified by the MNR to represent the full spectrum of Ontario’s biodiversity, natural landforms and environments (OMNR 1999).
 
‘Significant’ ANSIs are identified as provincially significant by the MNR using evaluation procedures established by the Province, as amended from time to time. The MNR evaluates sites to determine areas with the greatest potential value for scientific study, conservation and education.
 
Earth science ANSIs are geological; they include examples of bedrock, fossils, landforms, and ongoing geological processes in Ontario (OMNR 1999).
 
Life science ANSIs are biological; they include examples of various types of wetlands, woodlands, valleylands, prairies, wildlife, plants and their supporting environments (OMNR 1999).
 
ANSIs can occur on both public and private lands. 

1.3 Why are Areas of Natural and Scientific Interest Important?

 ANSIs are chosen to represent Ontario’s full range of significant natural features and they are meant to play an important role in protecting Ontario’s biodiversity and natural heritage. ANSIs both complement and, in some cases, encompass the natural features which form the RRCA’s Natural Heritage System. 

1.4 Areas of Natural and Scientific Interest in the RRCA’s Natural Heritage System

There are two provincially significant ANSIs in the RRCA’s Natural Heritage System (see Table 1). Map 1 displays the location of provincially significant ANSIs. 

Table 1. Provincially Significant ANSIs

Name of ANSI
Type of ANSI
Size (Ha)
Nairne Island Drumlins
Earth science
62.6
Rigaud River Headwaters Forest
Life science
1,508.8

 
There are seven regionally significant life science ANSIs in the Natural Heritage System (see Table 2). Map 1.0 displays the location of these ANSIs.
 
Table 2. Regionally Significant ANSIs

Name of ANSI
Type of ANSI
Size (Ha)
Bainsville Forest
Life science
38.5 ha.
Garry River Wetland
Life science
760.3 ha.
Hoople Creek Wetland
Life science
76.5 ha.
Hoasic Creek Wetland
Life science
2,238.5 ha.
Ingleside Wetland
Life science
6,732.9 ha.
Kirkhill Forest
Life science
323.8 ha.
Newington Bog
Life science
1, 560.3 ha.

 
Several of the regionally significant ANSIs are also provincially or locally significant wetlands.
 
The following ANSI descriptions are taken directly from the MNR’s Natural Heritage Information Centre’s website (http://nhic.mnr.gov.on.ca/MNR/nhic/areas/):
 
Nairne Island Drumlins
Size: 62.6 ha
Provincially Significant Earth Science ANSI
 
  • Nairne Island ANSI contains 3 well-formed Late Wisconsinan drumlins oriented north-south which is unusual for this area. The drumlins may represent a third glacial advance (Newington Advance) or a simple remodification of an earlier drumlinoid form by a later ice advance. [Earth Science Database, 1998]
 
 
Rigaud River Headwaters Forest
Size: 1,508.8 ha
Provincially Significant Life Science ANSI
 
  • Vegetation: This site is situated about a low, extensively forested trough in the headwaters of the Rigaud River; occasional areas of higher ground (especially on drumlins at the north end along the river) support upland vegetation. Balsam Poplar and other deciduous swamp and lowland forest tree species are common. The southeastern side of the site appears more disturbed than the northwestern and also appears to contain younger forest cover. Black Lake, at the top of the watershed, is a small, isolated, bog-margined water body surrounded by deciduous and mixed swamp forest, particularly on the south side. The organic material upon which it is situated is shallowly layered over ground moraine. More than 50% of the site is upland hardwood forest of varying age, all impacted to varying degrees by logging. Fences are absent through much of the site, suggesting that grazing has not occurred within the woodland. The upland forests are in more or less calcareous, stony, clay loam soil and demonstrate a relatively rich floral diversity. Frequently noted are Wild Leek (Allium tricoccum), Clinton’s Wood Fern (Dryopteris clintoniana), Goldie’s Fern (Dryopteris goldiana) and Waterleaf (Hydrophyllum virginianum). Seepages and other more moist sites in these hardwoods have abundant Glade Fern (Athyrium pycnocarpon), Silvery Spleenwort (Athyrium thelypteroides) and Maidenhair Fern (Adiantum pedatum). Black Maple (Acer nigrum) is common in the forest canopy. Yellow Birch - White Cedar - Black Ash swamp forest is found in wetland sites within the forest. Fern growth is dense in these lowland habitats, including possible hybrids (e.g. Dryopteris clintoniana x cristata). A drowned swamp forest, the result of beaver flooding, occurs along the Rigaud River. [Brunton 1992]
  • Landform: Landform Type(s): Ground Moraine and Ice Contact. [Brunton 1992]
  • Representation: Given the limited representation of typical vegetation of these landforms in Site District 6E-12, the floristic diversity of the site and the extent of continuous forest here, the proposed ANSI warrants a rating of provincially significant. [Brunton 1992]
 
 
Bainsville Forest
Size: 38.5 ha
Regionally Significant Life Science ANSI
 
  • Vegetation: “The late successional deciduous forest at this site is submature to mature, dominated by Sugar Maple and American Beech with Eastern Hemlock, Bitternut Hickory, Basswood, Red Maple and Trembling Aspen in thin sandy-loam over extensive clay deposit. The undergrowth is a diverse mixture of woody and herbaceous growth typical of rich, mesic to wet-mesic hardwoods in southeastern Ontario. It includes Christmas Fern (Polystichum acrosticoides), Licorice-root (Osmorhiza longistylis), Clinton’s Wood Fern (Dryopteris clintoniana), Blue-beech (Carpinus caroliniana) and Wild Ginger (Asarum canadense). [Brunton 1992]”
  • The rarity of less undisturbed, older deciduous hardwood forest (especially on clay substrates) in Site District 6E-12 provides a considerable degree of representational significance. [Brunton 1992]”
 
 
Garry River Wetland
Size: 760.3 ha
Regionally Significant Life Science ANSI
 
  • Vegetation: Much of the inundated portion of the site is surrounded by a coniferous swamp forest of White Cedar and Larch which supports a dense, tangled undergrowth dominated by Speckled Alder (Alnus incana), Swamp Willow (Salix pedicillaris) and Red-osier Dogwood (Cornus stolonifera). These forests apparently become less disturbed and more mature inland, being best represented about the boggy lake at the west of the site. The aquatic areas of Middle Lake are open, with a narrow emergent marsh band along the north shore and an extensive Cat-tail (Typha latifolia) marsh across the western half of the lake. The marshes demonstrate a low floristic diversity, typical of artificially created wetlands (see Riverside Marsh). Cut stumps and standing chicos are scattered throughout as evidence of the lake’s recent origin. [Brunton 1992]
  • Landform: The Garry River, a tributary of the Delisle River, is dammed several kilometres upstream of Alexandria, forming MiddleLake which constitutes the centre of this wetland site. Accordingly, the resulting wetland is artificial although based on pre-existing natural but much smaller swamp and marsh habitats. [Brunton 1992] Landform Type(s): Organic Deposits. [Brunton 1992]
  • Representation: Despite the artificial origin of the marsh, this site provides a large and thus significant representative of reasonably typical (if somewhat floristically depauperate) marsh and emergent aquatic vegetation habitat. [Brunton 1992]
 
 
 
Hoople Creek Wetland
Size: 76.5 ha
Regionally Significant Life Science ANSI
 
  • Vegetation: This wetland is of recent origin, resulting from flooding of the St. Lawrence River for the St. Lawrence Seaway in the mid 1950s. It is situated on the St. Lawrence River flood plain across which Hoople Creek drains. The bay into which it empties is shallow, with sediment-laden eutrophic water and a narrow band of Cat-tail (Typha latifolia) - Bulrush (Scirpus lacustris) marsh along the shoreline. Vast emergent mudflats usually form by late summer - early fall upon which marsh and emergent aquatic flora form dense populations. Included amongst these are various rushes (Juncus spp.), sedges (Carex spp., Eleocharis spp., Cyperus spp.), grasses, Beggarsticks (Bidens cernua and B. frondosa), knotweed (Polygonum lapathifolium, P. pensylvanicum) as well as marsh dominants. The uncommon southern sedge, Intermediate Spikerush (Eleocharis intermedia), is found on exposed mudflats in the fall. The backshore of the site is completely utilized for agricultural and residential purposes and supports minimal natural significance. [Brunton 1992]
  • Landform: This wetland is of recent origin, resulting from flooding of the St. Lawrence River for the St. Lawrence Seaway in the mid 1950s. It is situated on the St. Lawrence River flood plain across which Hoople Creek drains. [Brunton 1992] Landform Type(s): Clay Plain. [Brunton 1992]
  • Representation: The site represents a disturbed example of the mudflat vegetation supported elsewhere in the site district at Ottawa Beach in Ottawa/Nepean. [Brunton 1992]
 
 
Hoasic Creek Wetland
Size: 2,238.5 ha
Regionally Significant Life Science ANSI
 
  • This large wetland contains a wide variety of organic-based deciduous, mixed and coniferous swamp forests through which Hoasic Creek and a number of minor rivulets flow. Red Maple, Black Ash, White Cedar and Balsam Fir are particularly common with dense herbaceous and shrub undergrowth. Submerged and floating-leaved aquatic vegetation is dominated by common species such as Needle Spikerush (Eleocharis acicularis) and Marsh Spikerush (E. palustris), Yellow Waterlily (Nuphar variegatum), Duckweed (Lemna minor) and Calla (Calla palustris). Thicket swamp and marsh edges of the wetland are infested with an abundance of Purple Loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria) and, at least along Hoasic Creek, by Frog’s-bit (Hydrocharis morsus-ranae). [Brunton 1992]
 
 
Ingleside Wetland
Size: 6,732.5 ha
Regionally Significant Life Science ANSI
 
  • Vegetation: Extensive Cat-tail (Typha latifolia) - Reed Canary-grass (Phalaris arundinacea) marsh and eutrophic, open-water aquatic associations dominate the unforested majority of the site. As with other St. Lawrence Seaway marshes, this site supports a homogeneous vegetation with minimal floristic diversity. Open water in and beyond the marsh is shallow, eutrophic and also with low floristic diversity, likely due to the large annual river level draw-down as well as the short history of the site as a wetland. Thicket swamp vegetation of Speckled Alder, Red-osier Dogwood and willow (Salix petiolaris, S. bebbiana, S. discolor) borders much of the marsh area and grades into scrubby Green Ash - Red Maple - White Elm lowland forest on wet sites and Green Ash - Bur Oak - hawthorn vegetation on higher ground in the regenerating pasturelands. [Brunton 1992]
  • Landform: Landform Type(s): Clay Plain and Ground Moraine. [Brunton 1992]
  • Representation: The site is part of a provincially significant (Class 1) Upper Canada Migratory Bird Sanctuary Wetland. Although severely disturbed by past and on-going land management practices, the relatively extensive marsh and swamp complex here offer the potential for ecological conservation management and thus, a moderate degree of representative significance. [Brunton 1992]
 
 
Kirkhill Forest
Size: 323.8
Regionally Significant Life Science ANSI
 
  • Vegetation: The site is on a low till ridge in the Rigaud River watershed upon which a young to submature late successional deciduous forest of Sugar Maple, Basswood, Ironwood and Bitternut Hickory is situated. The hickory is unusually abundant in this forest which also contains the regionally uncommon Black Maple as well as White Pine and, in wetter depressions, White Elm. The herbaceous flora is exceptionally rich. Virginia Waterleaf (Hydrophyllum virginianum), Plaintain Sedge (Carex plantaginea), Bellwort (Uvularia grandiflora), Clinton’s Woodfern (Dryopteris clintoniana), Blue Cohosh (Caulophyllum thalictroides), Licorice-root (Osmorhiza longistylis) and Maidenhair Fern (Adiantum pedatum) are common; they all are indicators of rich, southern-affinity hardwoods in eastern Ontario. Down-slope of the maple forest is a relatively extensive and disturbed Silver Maple, White Elm, Black Ash and White Cedar swamp forest with a diverse ground flora. Evidence of huge maple formerly living in the swamp is present in the form of cut stumps, attesting to the richness of the situation and the severe degree of disturbance caused by repeated logging. The entire site has been relatively heavily and recently (within the last two years?) logged, apparently for firewood. The impact has been severe. [Brunton 1992]
  • Landform: The site is on a low till ridge in the Rigaud River watershed. [Brunton 1992] Landform Type(s): Ground Moraine. [Brunton 1992] 
  • Representation: This late successional upland and lowland forest on Ground Moraine is also represented in the larger, less disturbed Rigaud River Headwaters Forest. As it is otherwise rare within Site District SE-12, however, the site retains representational significance. [Brunton 1992]
 
 
Newington Bog
Size: 1,560.3 ha
Regionally Significant Life Science ANSI
 
  • Vegetation: This huge domed peatland is a much disturbed example of many of the features and habitats found in the Alfred Bog but with considerably less coniferous swamp forest. Deciduous and mixed forest (Red Maple, White Cedar, Larch, Trembling Aspen, White Birch) are common throughout, particularly in the eastern half of the site (east of the Avonmore Road) which has been significantly affected by logging and track cutting. A larger coniferous component exists west of the powerline crossing to the large area where peat extraction has destroyed a major portion of the bog mat. In this western area relatively extensive open bog heath occurs, supporting typical low shrub bog vegetation and flora. [Brunton 1992]
  • Landform: Landform Type(s): Organic Deposits. [Brunton 1992]
  • Representation: The site is a Class 1 Wetland, due largely to its size, the presence of rare features and the presence of a deer yard within its boundaries. These features and the rarity of such habitat in southern Ontario, provides a considerable level of significance, despite its history of disturbance. [Brunton 1992]
     

2.0 References

 
Brunton, D.F. 1992. Life Science Areas of Natural and Scientific Interest in Site District 6-12. Unpublished Manuscript. 225 pp.
 
Ministry of Natural Resources. 2006. Natural Heritage Information Centre. Internet: http://nhic.mnr.gov.on.ca/MNR/nhic/areas/
 


 

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