Conservation Strategy    

Conservation Strategy for

Carolinian Canada

Conservation Strategy Summary

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A Unique Region & Program

Carolinian Canada is a unique region. Set in the most populated and intensively farmed landscape in the country, it still possesses a richness of native species unequalled in Canada.

The Carolinian Canada Program was established in 1984 as a partnership between government agencies and non-government conservation groups to address the special needs of this region. Over the past twelve years, this program has achieved a great deal, especially in protecting 38 of the most important sites. But unless effective steps are taken within the rest of the landscape, the loss of species will increase in the Carolinian region because of the new stress on the landscape.

Click Here to See a Map of the 38 Sites

A Landscape Under Pressure

The growth of cities, towns and villages (urban areas) has been a major factor in the Carolinian region and that development is expected to continue on the urban fringes. In some areas, there has been substantial growth in the number of rural non-farm residences.

Farming is the primary land use in most of the region. Farming practices are becoming more intensive, with larger farms, greater concentrations of livestock and more row crops. This pattern raises concerns about water quality and suitable fish and wildlife habitats.

In most parts of the Carolinian region, the area covered by forest continues to decline. The break up of remaining forest in small forest patches is a significant conservation problem. Many songbirds and other species require a minimum forest size to protect them from predators that thrive along the forest edge.

Stream water quality suffers from eroded soil and pollutants from city, town and rural run off. Wetland losses also continue, although at a slower rate than in the past. Many natural habitats are a fraction of their original extent, particularly prairies (native grassland) and savannahs (grassland with scattered trees). As a result, species and natural communities (groups of plants and creatures living together ) are increasingly at risk.

A Time of Change

A wide range of conservation programs is in place in Carolinian Canada, but agency funding cuts have seriously reduced their effectiveness. Some important programs related to forest management and water quality restoration have been cancelled. Public ownership of natural habitats is very limited, about 2% of the landscape. First Nation lands, which total approximately the same area, often contain significant natural features. Only a tiny portion of the landscape has any legal protection.

Ontario is undergoing a major shift of responsibilities from the province to municipal governments. At the same time, incentive programs such as property tax rebates are in a period of rapid change.

Because of these changes, it is time to consider a new focus for the Carolinian Canada program. A program that is more community-oriented, addresses the landscape rather than individual sites and builds broad support would have better prospects for success in the future.

Developing the Conservation Strategy

The development of a conservation strategy was commissioned by the Carolinian Canada Steering Committee, chaired by Anne Redish. The study itself was undertaken by Ric Symmes of STERNSMAN, Ron Reid of Bobolink assisted by Doug van Hemessen of the Carolinian Canada Steering Committee.

Issues and Options

The first stage in the project was the development of a 60-page Issues and Options report, which examined trends in land use and natural features, the adequacy of existing programs, issues related to conservation of species and habitats and possible options for future action. To promote discussion and response, this report was widely distributed to interested individuals and organizations in October 1996.

Vision & Priorities

Commencing at the 1996 A.D. Latornell Symposium, a structured discussion continued at a workshop attended by 65 conservationists held in London on November 5, 1996. Workshop participants included staff from the Ministry of Natural Resources, several Universities and Conservation Authorities, members of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, naturalists and urban conservation groups, municipal and First Nations individuals and other Carolinian landowners. Through the workshop process, a workbook, questions, and comments, they described a realistic but preferred future for conservation in the region, that is, how they would like it to be.

Objectives and Action Plans

The results of those workshops described a vision and priorities that were further discussed during December and January by a panel of 12 representatives from the initial workshops. This panel included members of the farm community, municipal planners and landowners, as well as representatives of conservation groups and agencies.

This Summary Report

This report summarizes the results of these discussions, and outlines the most immediate actions necessary to implement the conservation strategy. The next section of this report provides an overview of the vision and five priority goals for Carolinian Canada. The third section develops objectives and action plans for each of five priority goals. The final section recommends the kind of support structure needed for implementation and the most urgent next steps. A more detailed account of the workshops and panel deliberations, including a complete listing of objectives, can be found in the report to the Carolinian Canada Steering Committee titled: "A Conservation Strategy for Carolinian Canada: Background Reports".

This participative process was chosen to ensure that resulting conservation strategy was more than a plan developed in isolation by staff or consultants. It is meant to reflect the aspirations and priorities of landowners, conservation staff and volunteers and others with a stake in the future of this region. With this grounding in reality, we believe it provides a sound base for a renewed program of vigorous conservation activity in one of the most diverse and threatened regions of the country.


The Authors wish to acknowledge the contribution of many participants in the development of this Strategy. Those who participated in the Vision and Strategy Workshop are too numerous to list here. We would however, like to thank the members of the Stakeholder Panel who met in November, December and January to debate and contribute their expertise and perspective:

Conservation Strategy Advisory Panel

Mr. Brian Wheeler
Woodlot Owner, Oxford County
Mr. Doug van Hemessen
Carolinian Canada Committee, London
Mr. Brian McHattieCanadian Wildlife Service, Hamilton
Mr. Paul PrevettMinistry of Natural Resources, London Mr. Allen WoodliffeMinistry of Natural Resources, Chatham Prof. Stewart HiltsCentre for Land and Water Stewardship, University of Guelph
Ms. Alice Walent-BellarLambton Wildlife Inc.,Brights Grove Ms. Sarah RupertLambton Wildlife Inc, Sarnia Also several "corresponding members" who were unable to attend but provided comments:
Mr. Dan LebedykEssex Region ConservationAuthority, Essex County Mr. Steven EvansCounty of Middlesex Planning, London Mr. John Riley,Federation of Ontario Naturalists, Mono Township
Ms. Judy EisingFederation of Ontario Naturalists, Milton Mr. Don HillEnvironmental Farm Plans Working Group, Markdale Mr. Kevin KavanaghWorld Wildlife Fund, Toronto
Mr. Jim BoothbyKent-Essex Stewardship Network, Chatham Mr. Wayne MacMillanGrand River Conservation Authority, Cambridge Ms. Margaret VilezOntario Federation of Agriculture, Tillsonburg


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