Friends of the Cawthra Bush
Greater Mississauga Area
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University of Toronto, Erindale Campus
Feb. 21, 1994.
To: Jocelyn Webber.
Remarks About Cawthra Forest, Dixie, Peel Co, Ontario.
The Cawthra Forest was sampled on June 3, 1959 as one of the 200 stands in an extensive survey of the Deciduous Forests of Southern Ontario. This formed just part of its long continuing history. At that time it was second growth forest, (As119 Fa50 Pse42 Ta24 Ua24 )* showing signs of previous selective logging but there were older trees (150 sq. m+) mostly Black Cherry (Prunus serotina), White Ash (Fraxinus americana) and White Elm (Ulmus americana), confirming that the forest had been intact as forest for a long time. Large tooth Aspen (Populusgrandidentata), Canoe Birch (Betula papyrifera) and Pin Cherry (Prunusvirginiana), gave evidence of the previous disturbance but these trees were being slowly replaced by vigorous younger individuals of Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum), Basswood (Tiliaamericana), White Ash and White Elm. It was estimated that the stand was more than 60 years old at the time and with the passage of another 35 years it is now close to a century and approaching what can be considered old growth forest. Such is extremely rare in Southern Ontario and is fast becoming exceedingly rare in The City of Mississauga.
In addition to the trees and saplings of which there were 16 species, there was a rich understorey including Actaeapachypoda, Allium tricoccum, Arisaemaatrorubens, Caulophyllumthalictroides, Circaeaquadrisulcata, Hepatica acutiloba, Maianthemunmcanadense, Osmorhiza claytonia, Podophyllumpeltatum, Polygonatumpubescens, Sambucus pubens, Smilacinaracemosa, Tiarella cordifolia, Trilliumerectum, Trilliumgrandiflorum, Viola pennsylvanica, Pileapumila and Viola pallens, to mention just the more abundant species. In all there were 76 species of understorey plants. In total there were 16 different trees, 10 shrubs, 5 woody lianas and 61 species of herbs of various statures, for a total of 92 different plant species, not including mosses, lichens and other cryptograms.
This is a remarkable array of plant diversity which is undoubtedly paralleled by the animals. As well, a number of these plants including, Prunus pensylvanica, Clintoniaborealis, Dryopterisnoveboracensis, Medeolavirginiana, Menispermum canadense, Streptopusroseus, Dryopterisdisjuncta, Viola pallens, Athyriumthelypteroides, and Lilium michiganense, among others, are unusual for their geographical occurrence either on a local, county, or provincial scale.
Such an old growth ecosystem has invaluable worth for forest ecological research, as a benchmark for natural successional change and to monitor global climatic changes, as a natural museum of wonder for children and adults alike, as a repository of genetic diversity, and just as a thing of joy and beauty.
What has Mississauga gained by initiating destruction by logging - a few dollars in wood - doubtfully. Foresters' propaganda that they are improving upon the health of the forests - odd they continually lose track of the fact that the primeval forest - totally unhusbanded, produced more and higher quality timber than any since. The politics of all this is uncommendable.
Throughout the City forests of all types are being totally destroyed by development - why also destroy the few remaining old growth systems, especially at a time when the Minister of Natural Resources is attempting to set aside as much old growth as possible.
Paul F. Maycock.
* A short form for indicating the
main tree species and their importance values (based on density, frequency
and dominance percentages), and using the first letter of the Latin names
for the species, i.e.
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