The wetlands of Ontario's Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence lowlands of Québec support the largest freshwater system in the world. The region has lost more than half of its original wetlands to agriculture and other developments. The approximately 2.5 million acres of remaining wetland habitat supports areas of relatively high breeding waterfowl densities, and the region as a whole, provides a significant contribution to waterfowl production within the Great Lakes basin and continentally.
Importance to waterfowl
- The lower Great Lakes and associated coastal wetlands provide critical habitat for waterfowl migrating in both spring and fall.
- Spring and fall migrations consist of large numbers of diving ducks.
- Southern Ontario is home to a great diversity of bird life, with the richness of the species rivaling anywhere else in Canada or the United States during the breeding season.
- The recent recovery of beaver populations has resulted in extensive complexes of highly diverse wetland habitats that are used by breeding waterfowl.
- Conflicts with recreational development pose additional threats to the long-term health of beaver populations and thus the significant wetland resources within the Hardwood Transition region.
- Human impacts on wetlands and wildlife habitat in this region are the highest on the continent.
DU's conservation focus
- DU is working to protect remaining habitats from continuing threats of urbanization, shoreline development and intensive agriculture.
- Programs include wetland securement/restoration, Ontario Land CARE (OLC) and grassland restoration initiatives in agricultural landscapes and beaver pond management in forested landscapes.
- Work with agriculture to ensure that current and future agricultural activities incorporate wildlife habitat conservation.
- Support public policies that affect wetlands and associated habitats.
Canadian provinces in the Hardwood Transition / Lower Great Lakes / St. Lawrence Plain - Ontario region