Long story short, birding has brought to light something that I never realized about Southwestern Ontario. There is no significant forested area for at least a two or three hour drive. Every last acre of land was converted to farmland and most of the swamps drained.
One of my best blog postings describes how Point Pelee was dyked and drained around the year 1895. Check it out here if you care to: Nerdy for Birdy: Pondering the Origins of Point Pelee's Onion Fields
This Windsor star blog posting does not give much information, but would be incredible news if there is some truth and some real action and dedication to get things done. Here goes:
About half of Essex County has become the first priority natural area in Canada.
“It is historic,” Essex MP Jeff Watson said after he made the announcement on Fighting Island Thursday.
The Western Lake Erie Watersheds priority natural area is a defined area for protection that includes land in western and southern Essex County. It stretches from Tecumseh, Windsor and LaSalle east to Leamington and includes areas that drain into the Detroit River and Lake Erie.
Environment Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, the Nature Conservancy of Canada, Ducks Unlimited Canada and the Essex Region Conservation Authority have agreed to work together and focus on this area.
“Our region is important because we have the most species at risk of both plant and animal anywhere in Canada and we have the most fragmented habitat here,” Watson said.
It may involve land acquisition projects and it is hoped the new focus will encourage landowners to voluntarily agree to continue to keep their lands in a natural state, Watson said.
About three per cent of the area is protected as a national park or conservation lands which is the lowest amount of protected areas in any region in Ontario.
Richard Wyma, general manager of the Essex Region Conservation Authority, said the agreement recognizes the importance of the Carolinian habitat and expresses a sense of urgency in improving and protecting it. The agreement is a model that could be used elsewhere.
Wyma said the agreement will focus existing grants and he hopes it will attract more funding. He said there is a lot of work to do.
“It is more about how do we do more tree planting. How do we do more of our water quality improvement projects?”