From travelling differently to growing food differently, Islanders live differently. In an area of Ontario under intense human development pressure, Pelee Island has managed to retain large portions of its natural heritage. The following are just a few of the conservation projects underway on Pelee Island.
The savannas, forests and regenerating fields of Pelee Island currently make up almost 25 percent of the Island’s total area, giving a home to many species at risk that have long since vanished from the Ontario mainland.
Today, many sites on the Island are still preserved because of the will of local residents and their inherent connection to the Island’s natural heritage. The tradition of conservation on Pelee Island has been illustrated by the local municipal government in their effort to support natural heritage preservation.
Alongside the Nature Conservancy of Canada, Ontario Parks, the Essex Region Conservation Authority, and Ontario Nature, the Township of Pelee and the residents of Pelee Island have been leaders in the field of habitat conservation making life better for both humans and wildlife.
Please visit www.pelee.org for more information about these protected spaces.
A group of Pelee Island residents formed a group called “Nature on Pelee” in 2018 and from that, a new initiative called “The Pelee Buzz” was created. Visit their Facebook page for the latest nature events on Pelee Island: https://www.facebook.com/Pelee-Buzz-1954299834696191/
Ontario Nature acquired Stone Road Alvar Nature Reserve through a campaign spearheaded by Dr Stewart Hilts and Donald Kirk. It was financed through a loan from the Ontario Heritage Foundation, and then paid back by generous donations from Ontario Nature members, local naturalist clubs and the Carolinian Canada Program.
The Essex County Field Naturalists’ Club is the official stewards of the reserve.
A truly outstanding array of rare habitats and species is packed into Stone Road Alvar, a 42-hectare property of oak-hickory woodland, oak savannah, red cedar savannah, old-field thicket and open Alvar communities. The reserve is home to 44 provincially rare and 33 regionally rare plant species. Alvars have their own unique flora adapted to the extreme heat, variations in moisture and rocky calcareous soil.
The scattered oaks are predominantly chinquapins which, despite their stunted appearance, are often more than 100 years old. Of special note is the local abundance of downy wood mint, a plant whose Canadian range is restricted to Pelee Island. The reserve has two other plant species that occur nowhere else in Canada: navel-shape cornsalad and yellow horse-gentian.
Meadowlark Organic Farm
Meadowlark Organic Farm is a program of the Pelee Island Heritage Centre, which fosters the on-going expansion of alternative and organic agriculture. Meadowlark aims to support local healthy food production and bring more economic opportunity to the Island while supporting local wildlife.
Native Tree Nursery
In 2007 and 2008, the Pelee Island Heritage Centre, in cooperation with Meadowlark Organic Farm, is establishing an on-island native tree nursery. This nursery is critical to the planned restoration of native habitats on Nature Conservancy of Canada properties. It will also encourage and support private land stewardship initiatives, and local development proposals.
Nature Conservancy Canada (NCC)
For almost 20 years the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) has been working to conserve habitat on Pelee Island. To date, NCC has conserved over 1,000 acres (390 hectares) of globally rare shoreline, Alvar and forest habitat, representing more than 10 per cent of the island.
Over the next three years, NCC will create a massive 62-acre (25-hectare) wetland, restore 20 acres (8 hectares) of upland habitat, tackle invasive phragmites, and create new trails and signage to welcome island visitors and the local community to this special place.
NCC and Ducks Unlimited Canada are partnering to create this 62-acre (25-hectare) wetland on Pelee Island. Drained in the late 1800s, this former marsh once sheltered migratory songbirds and waterfowl. When complete, the wetland will support migratory birds, turtles, salamanders and a multitude of other species. The wetland will also provide critically important water retention, filtration and flood mitigation to the local community.