Ramara is rich in both wetlands and farmlands; two land features the Couchiching Conservancy has placed a priority on preserving. The farmlands of Ramara provide an important niche for provincial species at risk–grassland birds such as Bobolink, Meadowlark, and Barn Swallow. The wetlands are some of the most productive habitat in our region.
To date, the Conservancy has one acquisition in Ramara Township: The McIsaac Wetland, donated by Basil McIsaac in 1998. As of last summer, we have one landowner stewardship project under our belt and this summer we hope to complete three more.
Thanks to a partnership with the Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority, and support from the Provincial Species At Risk Stewardship Fund, we can now plan for an increase in our activity and presence in Ramara. Taking an approach similar to the Integrated Carden Conservation Strategy, we will support farmers and ranchers through fencing and water projects that help improve farm operations at the same time that they protect water quality. We will also hold more community meetings such as the one that took place February 24th at the Udney Community Centre.
That meeting brought together farmers, residents, the local Historical Societies, Township Council, Ducks Unlimited, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forests, and the Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority. We talked about wetlands and farmlands, and the importance of protecting both.
Ramara is in the unique position of still retaining a wetland landmass of over 25 per cent, well above the national average of 14 per cent. Wood Ducks, Green Heron, Fisher, Long-Tailed Weasel, Mink, Northern Flying Squirrel, Great Horned Owl, Barred Owl, Pileated Woodpecker, Northern Flicker, Hairy Woodpecker, Brown Creeper, Beaver, Muskrat and the Prothonotary Warbler can all be found in Ramara’s hardwood swamps.
Side-by-side, and sometimes created out of drained wetlands, are the farms. From a conservation perspective, the challenge for us in Ramara will be to find a balance between farmland and wetland, and not view either as the enemy.
Dorthea Hangaard is Project Manager for the Couchiching Conservancy. Contact her for more information on landowner stewardship projects in Ramara and Carden. dorthea(at)couchconservancy.ca
This project is made possible thanks to funding from the Provincial Species At Risk Stewardship Fund and Environment Canada.