Friends of the Cawthra Bush
Greater Mississauga Area
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Urban Forest Management Advisory Committee
Dear Sirs or Mesdames:
May 19, 1998
The Hamilton Naturalists' Club (HNC) is a five hundred member organization begun in 1919 whose focus is on protecting natural areas throughout the greater Hamilton area. We have recently been made aware of management issues centring on Cawthra Woods, a sixty acre woodland habitat in the City of Mississauga.
One of our HNC members is a member of the Society for Ecological Restoration (SER) and attended a tour of Cawthra Woods held on May 9 offered by the Ontario Chapter of SER. The tour included an introduction and hike by Bill Montague of the City of Toronto, and a talk by Eric Boysen of Wildlife Habitat Canada on forest management. Half of those attending the tour (approximately forty individuals) were members of SER.
Cawthra Woods appears to represent a diverse and healthy wet forest ecosystem. There is surprisingly little invasion by exotic vegetation such as Norway maple and garlic mustard. Information supplied by the Friends of Cawthra Bush indicates that the woodland has been designated as a regional Area of Natural and Scientific Interest and an environmentally significant area by Credit Valley Conservation. We under stand that over 217 plant species, 43 bird species, and nationally significant species such as the Jefferson's Salamander have been identified on site. The involvement of well-known naturalists such as Wayne Weller and Dr. James Bogart suggests the area is indeed significant.
Given the ecological significance of Cawthra Woods and our close proximity to Mississauga, the HNC would like to be given the opportunity to comment on the management plan being prepared for Cawthra Woods. The goal of any management plan should be to restore and maintain the ecological integrity of a natural area. Prior to a plan being prepared, preliminary inventories and assessments of flora and fauna, water quality and human impacts are completed. Management activity would, be premature if undertaken prior to completion of such studies documenting the current state of Cawthra Woods. We understand that the forest has not been evaluated under the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources' wetland evaluation system. This evaluation should be undertaken to ascertain the significance of the woodland as a swamp forest wetland ecosystem.
During the SER tour, several questions were raised that indicate the need to undertake a preliminary. investigation prior to preparing a management plan and implementation of that plan:
1. Is the woodland large enough that interior forest conditions may be present?
2. What stage of succession should the woodland be managed for? Should it be left to evolve without human disturbance?
3. How much of the woodland is impacted by the water flowing from the QEW? What is the chemical makeup of that water and how is the woodland ecosystem responding to it? Is it worth taking steps to improve the quality of the water infiltrating the woodland from the QEW?
4. What is the cost/benefit of any future planting of the watermain easement if any work would have to be done on it in the near future? Would it be better to improve the soil and allow natural regeneration to take place?
5. What is the current status of the nationally significant Jefferson's Salamander population? Is there a need to take action to sustain the population? What form should those actions take?
Several other questions come to mind:
* What will happen to the wet forest should further openings in the canopy be created by cutting (i.e. potential for desiccation)?
* How is the watermain channel affecting the water table within the wet forest?
It seems to us that the management plan represents an excellent opportunity for the City of Mississauga to show other municipalities how important it is to work methodically with experts and the community to plan for the maintenance of healthy natural areas within urban centres. In 1995, the HNC authored the Hamilton-Wentworth Natural Areas Inventory in partnership with the Regional Municipality of Hamilton-Wentworth and others. In 1994, we authored the Hamilton Herpetofaunal Atlas (also covering a small part of Mississauga). We are happy to share our experience in citizen: municipality partnerships and offer the ' time of our expert naturalists (many of them qualified biologists) to assist you in developing the management plan, if desired.
Clearly, the city wishes to manage Cawthra Woods in accordance with the desires of its citizens and in keeping with a goal of enhancing and maintaining ecological integrity. We understand that this is a new venture for the City and we would like to respectfully suggest that the process be slowed down in order to undertake the necessary studies and to establish relationships with community groups, before the management plan process proceeds.
Yours truly - Brian McHattie, Conservation Director
C.C. Jean Stollard, HNC President - Sheila O'Neal, HNC Conservation Committee - Donald Barber, Friends of Cawthra Bush - Bob Morris, Credit Valley Conservation
Hamilton Naturalists' Club is a non-profit organization dedicated to the study, appreciation and conservation of our wild plants and animals. All work is freely done by Directors, Officers and Members.
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