In an area east of Orillia and northwest of Lindsay, a flat limestone landscape called the Carden Plain harbours rare habitats known as alvars. Alvars occur only on limestone bedrock with little or no soil, where spring floods and summer droughts create harsh conditions. Many of the wildflowers, native grasses and invertebrate species found on alvars normally occur in the western provinces, and many are rare. These habitats are globally imperiled, occurring only in the south of Sweden and scattered around the Great Lakes Basin. Carden Township’s alvars are thought to be among the richest in the province, with a great diversity of alvar species.

In 1996, The Couchiching Conservancy began a project to identify the locations and extent of these rare habitats. After the alvars were mapped and the vegetation communities and plant species were identified, we shared this information with the landowners and encouraged individuals to ensure long term protection of these unique areas.

Today, over 10,000 acres of land containing alvar habitat has been protected on the Carden Plain through productive partnerships between the Nature Conservancy of Canada, The Couchiching Conservancy, Ontario Parks, Ontario Field Ornithologists, Toronto Ornithological Club, the Carden Field Naturalists and hundreds of volunteers and donors.

For more information on the Carden conservation strategy, download the 2008 report: Towards an Integrated Carden Conservation Strategy Part 1: Healthy Ecosystems & Species at Risk

For more information on the species found on the Carden Plain download this Excel spreadsheet: Carden area species list (Provided by The Nature Conservancy of Canada).

Prairie Smoke. C. Curran.

Want to explore this area? Take a look: