The Great Lakes-St. Lawrence (GLSL) biome of Canada includes southern parts of Ontario and Quebec plus a small part of northwestern New Brunswick. Within Ontario, the GLSL encompasses all of the Lower Great Lakes/St. Lawrence Plain and the southern half of the Boreal Hardwood Transition NABCI Regions. Within the GLSL of Ontario, three unique landscapes (Mixed Woodland Plain, Shield and Coastal) have been identified. Although there is considerable diversity within each of these areas, there is sufficient homogeneity within to allow effective development of habitat conservation programs for each. Each of these areas is important to waterfowl in its own right, however, each plays a different role in the biology of Ontario waterfowl.
Current habitat programs
A comprehensive set of programs and initiatives developed specifically to address habitat limitations and encourage growth in duck populations are currently being delivered in priority areas within the various landscapes of the GLSL. These include wetland securement/restoration, Ontario Land CARE (OLC) and grassland restoration initiatives in agricultural landscapes and Beaver Pond Management in forested landscapes.
Wetland Securement and Restoration - Securement involves the legal protection of critical breeding and migration habitat through conservation easements, agreements or leases, and purchases. Recent legislation provides the ability to negotiate perpetual conservation easements, and this technique is used where possible as a cost efficient alternative to the purchase of critically important habitats. Provincial Crown land dedication occurs on public lands associated with key breeding areas. Conservation agreements on wetland restoration, enhancement and agricultural initiatives secure valuable waterfowl habitats on private lands within southern Ontario. Wetland restoration is used restore hydrologic function in degraded habitats. This technique requires the co-operation and partnership of many groups (e.g. Federal and Provincial Crown, Conservation Authorities, and a large number of private landowners). Wetland securement and restoration is focused within the Mixed Woodland Plain and Coastal regions of the GLSL.
Ontario Land CARE
Upland initiatives delivered under the OLC program in agricultural landscapes of the Mixed Woodland Plain region to improve the breeding waterfowl value of wetland and associated habitats. The intent of OLC is to conserve wetlands and promote long term, sustainable land use changes in the agricultural landscape. Programs directed at modifying existing agricultural practices have a two-fold purpose. The first is the long-term securement (minimum 25 years) of the existing wetland habitat and where possible, rehabilitation and creation of new wetland areas. The second purpose is to positively affect adjoining upland areas by promoting changes in agricultural practices that not only benefit waterfowl and other wildlife, but are also economically attractive and thus sustainable from an agricultural standpoint. Direct program techniques employed include modified grazing systems, conversion of cultivated lands to forages, cover establishment on fragile or marginal lands, conservation tillage demonstrations and making flushing bars available for use during hay harvesting. This program also involves a co-operative approach with private landowners and many partnerships.
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