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Lower Welland River Characterization Report - Niagara Peninsula ...

Lower Welland River Characterization Report - Niagara Peninsula ...

Lower

Lower Welland River Study Area Characterization Report Corridors provide an increase in functionality of core areas, even smaller or fragmented areas, by not only facilitating in the movement of larger mammals between natural areas, but “they are also essential for the movement and maintenance of genetic diversity for virtually all species regardless of size or species-pollen and seeds and other genetic material are passed along corridors” (Pim No Date). In Ontario the PPS (MMAH 2005) calls for the wise use and management of resources, accordingly Section 2.1.2 of the PPS states: “The diversity and connectivity of natural features in an area, and the long-term ecological function and biodiversity of natural heritage systems, should be maintained, restored or, where possible, improved, recognizing linkages between and among natural heritage features and areas, surface water features and ground water features.” As previously indicated, Regional Niagara‟s Policy Plan: Regional Strategy for Development and Conservation (RMN 2007), includes objectives for a healthy landscape in the environmental policies. For example, Policy 7.A.1b calls upon planning authorities to employ an ecosystem approach that address “The health and integrity of the broader landscape, including impacts on the natural environment in neighboring jurisdictions” when making decisions regarding planning and development or conservation. The cores and corridors within the Lower Welland River study area, as identified by the Big Picture project are illustrated on Figure 7. NPCA Natural Areas Inventory Sites In 2006, the NPCA initiated a comprehensive Natural Areas Inventory (NAI) that was completed in partnership with the Regional Municipality of Niagara, local municipalities, Peninsula Field Naturalists and numerous other partners. The goal of the project was to use industry standard, scientifically-defensible protocols to inventory the natural areas in the NPCA watershed. The updated inventory provides a solid resource of information to aid in planning decisions, policy development, and the prioritization of restoration opportunities. Four major aspects comprise the Natural Areas Inventory project; these include a Community Series Ecological Land Classification (ELC) Mapping; field verifications of vegetative communities to Vegetation Type (ELC); faunal inventories of for example birds, lepidoptera and odonata, herpetofauna, and lichens; and education. In total, over 500 properties were visited for ELC vegetation type assessments. Detailed descriptions of natural areas can be found in Appendix B and the associated mapping (Figure 8) has been derived directly from the NPCA Natural Areas Inventory Report. For more information regarding the faunal inventories conducted during this study, please refer to the NPCA NAI Report. Identified Old Growth The Ministry of Natural Resources characterizes an old growth ecosystem “by the presence of old trees and their associated plants, animals, and ecological processes. They show little or no evidence of human disturbance” (MNR 1994). During an old growth forest survey conducted by the Bert Miller Nature Club during 2002 and 2003, the definition of an old growth forest used for purposes of their field work was “a natural community that has been continuously forested since before European Settlement, and that forest‟s canopy must be dominated by trees with ages of 150 years or older. Most old-growth forests have 8 or more trees per acre that are 150 years old or greater” (Bert Miller Nature Club 2004). 24

Lower Welland River Study Area Characterization Report Figure 7: Cores and Connections of the Carolinian Zone 25

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