OF THE MEDWAY VALLEY HERITAGE FOREST
The Medway Valley Heritage Forest is used by a number of people
who enjoy walking, hiking, nature appreciation, bird watching, cross-country
skiing, jogging and/or limited fishing. For those people who enjoy
picnics and easy family outings there are picnic tables and walking
trails located on the Perrin Williams Estate, operated by the Public
Utilities Commission and Heritage London.
City of London By-laws prohibit the riding of bicycles in the Medway
Valley Heritage Forest. However, many cyclists use the valley regularly.
Bicycles are prohibited because they;
increase the pressure of trampling, compaction, churning and trail
width expansion on existing path
there is an increased rate of degradation from recreational pressure.
opportunities within the Forest include interpretive hikes and environmental
projects. Educational activities are usually carried out by local
youth groups and schools. Several trail guides, walking tours and
information brochures have been published by the Medway Valley News.
Nature walks are offered by the McIlwraith Field
of London and the Medway Valley News Association. These walks are
the result of the Thames Valley Trail Association and the Medway
Valley News Association who maintain the established system of footpaths
and hiking trails.
University of Western Ontario tends to use the Medway Valley as
a teaching resource and as a natural lab for individual student
projects and class exercises. The ecological processes that can
be seen here include: succession, wetland development, erosion,
nutrient recycling, alien species invasion and the effects of pollution
and recreation pressure.
a result of the natural features of the land, the Valley has been
designated as a Natural Area. This is mainly due to the fact that
it is one of the largest of a few unmanicured green
areas within London. This Natural Area is predominantly used for
passive recreation. It offers its visitors many urban wilderness
recreational and experiential opportunities and also holds high
educational value. As well, the Medway Valley Heritage Forest contains
unusual vegetative habitats, including a black walnut savannah and
a small wet flood plain meadow.
LANDFORMS IN THE MEDWAY VALLEY
The Medway Valley area consists of 4 different landform types. These
A Valley: a long depression in the land usually containing a river
Bluffs: a steep bank or cliff formed by river erosion on the outside
bend of a meander
Flood plain: the flat area bordering a river, composed of sediment
deposited during flooding
Riparian: inhabiting or situated on the bank of a river
AREAS IN THE MEDWAY VALLEY
Medway Valley Heritage Forest is approximately 5 acres in size.
The Medway River runs through a valley creating upland forest areas
and valley slopes. The Medway River provides an aquatic habitat
for many species. There is forest habitat, flood plain (wet meadow)
habitat and seasonal wetland areas. An upland forest is surrounded
by residential property on the south and west, an open field to
the east, wooded river bluffs on the west and north, as well as
a steep open slip face to the northwest.
is an open meadow that is succeeding to a walnut savannah. Old orchards
and abandoned pastures have been overcome with hawthorn, grey dogwood,
apple, white elm, basswood, black locust, Manitoba maple, and aspen.
The grassy meadows contain a variety of wildflowers.
flood plains beside the Medway River contain many of the same tree
species as the valley.
AND ENJOY THE FOREST HABITAT...
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Woodland areas are important habitat for a variety of species including
birds, reptiles, insects, amphibians and mammals. A habitat is
where all plants and animals live; it is their home. These homes
in the forest can be large old hollow trees known as den trees,
or standing dead trees called snag trees. These trees are very
important within the forest ecosystem because animals like raccoons
and flying squirrels make their nests in den trees, while birds
like woodpeckers nest in snag trees.
nut producing trees (mast trees) such as oak, beech and hickory
supply food for the woodland creatures. Without these trees in the
forest the animals would either starve or move to another forest
that contained these trees.
trees or evergreens are important because they are
used as shelter and cover from the snow, wind and rain by many forest
dead trees have a place in the forest since all of the dead logs
and leaves on the forest floor provide habitat for insects and amphibians,
which in turn are food for other animals.
CAROLINIAN FOREST LIFEZONE:
Carolinian Canada is one of Canadas most significant landscapes.
Often known as the banana belt, this area supports
an amazing diversity of wildlife and natural habitats. The area
has a relatively warm climate, providing suitable habitat for many
species that are not found anywhere else in Canada. The area has
the warmest average temperatures and the longest frost-free seasons
in Ontario. This results in relatively mild winters compared to
the rest of Ontario. The Carolinian forest reaches its northern
most limit in Southern Ontario.
of Ontarios rare and endangered species can be found nestled
away in the last remaining acres of the Carolinian Forest. Species
that can be seen here include trees such as Sassafras, the Tulip
Tree, Blue Ash, Flowering Dogwood, Chestnut, Hop Tree, Paw Paw,
Black Gum, Cucumber Tree and the Kentucky Coffee Tree. The Green
Dragon, the Creeping Fragile Fern, Swamp Rose Mallow, Lizards
Tail, Yellow Mandarin, Virginia Bluebells and Oswego Tea are a few
of Canadas rare plants existing now only within the Carolinian
Zone. Bird species, such as, the Acadian Flycatcher, Summer Tanager,
Carolina Wren and the Prothonotary Warbler can be seen flying overhead.
Some mammals are restricted to this area, these include the Badger,
Eastern Mole, the Southern Flying Squirrel and the Opossum.
this life zone is one of the most threatened landscapes in Ontario,
covering less than 1% of Canada, but yet it is home to more rare
plants and animals than any other region in the country. This is
mainly because the species found here are at the northern most point
of their habitat. As well, these species live in developed and settled
landscapes, resulting in a minimum amount of habitat remaining.
It is found within an extremely busy corridor between Windsor and
Toronto. Urbanization, agriculture and industry have destroyed a
large portion of this beautiful forest. Because of this the Canadian
Carolinian Forest has been a focus for conservation and stewardship.
you would like to learn more about the Carolinian Life Zone, or
have any questions please do not hesitate to contact:
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IN A FOREST
Here are some wildlife species you might see in a forest habitat
in our area:
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TO THE MEDWAY VALLEY AQUATIC HABITAT
Aquatic habitats are lands that experience some form of water saturation
at any point in the year. These wet areas tend to reduce flooding
in the nearby areas as well as act as a natural filtration system.
Streams, rivers, ponds and lakes are all examples of aquatic habitat
areas. Wildlife like to use these areas because the aquatic ecosystems
are filled with food, hiding places from predators, shelter and
an abundance of water. The vegetation in wet areas can often include
cattails, some tree and shrub species, reeds and grasses.
Animals such as turtles can be seen basking on logs, frogs can be
heard communicating with each other, toads can be seen hopping away,
salamanders hiding, birds flying overhead, beaver busily building,
muskrats swimming by, and much more!
If you are enjoying a hike by the Medway River or are out exploring
the fishing that can be found here you will likely find the following:
Warm water fish: Bass, Pike and Perch
Minnow, carp, and darters are most often found in the Medway.
is mainly for recreation, by children and teenagers from the nearby
are some aquatic habitat species that you might find:
mammals use the aquatic habitat for water, food and shelter. Beaver,
muskrats, mink, opossums, and raccoons are some of the mammals you
might see in or near an aquatic area. Very often you will be able
to find their tracks.
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TO THE MEDWAY VALLEY
An open field surrounds the upland forest. This open meadow is in
the succession process and is becoming a walnut savannah. The old
orchards and abandoned pastures are mixed with forest species and
Grasslands are open areas where few or no trees grow. A true grassland
is sometimes called a prairie. A prairie is a long-lived grassland
that is dominated by native grasses. In comparison, the grasses
that you may see growing along the side of the road are called meadows,
they are not true prairies or grasslands.
meadow is an open, treeless area covered by grasses and is usually
the result of a disturbance. Meadows are the first stage of forest
regeneration. These areas have hundreds of different species
of grasses and wildflowers. Grasses make up between 50-75% of
all plants found in tall grass prairies. The most common grasses
found within a Tall grass Prairie includes: Big Bluestem, Little
Bluestem, Indian Grass and Switch grass. Some plants that can
be found within this habitat include Wild Lupine, Gray-headed
Coneflower, Prairie Smoke, Wild Bergamot, Butterfly Weed, Blazing
Asters, Goldenrods and Sunflowers.
European Settlement tall grass prairies were abundant in Southern
Ontario. Now, they are endangered. Less than 3% of the original
tall grass prairies still exist in Ontario today. The prairies
were converted into agricultural fields and pastures. However,
restoration projects are underway in Southern Ontario to help
save the prairie. Unfortunately, along with the loss of habitat
comes the loss of species. Of the plant species considered rare
in Ontario, approximately 20% are associated with prairie ecosystems.
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IN A GRASSLAND
WELCOME TO THE MEDWAY VALLEY WETLAND HABITAT
The flood plain and riparian environments support many wetland species.
The tree and shrub species found here are similar to the forest
A wetland is an area that has standing water at or near the surface
for most of the year. Wetlands may be located along shorelines and
riverbanks or can often be found in isolated depressions or hollows.
Wetlands are very important within nature for the following reasons:
provide habitat (food, water, shelter and space) for mammals,
reptiles, amphibians and many bird species.
Wetlands act like a giant sponge, holding water that reduces flooding.
Wetlands release water slowly, supplying water to other communities.
Wetlands help to control erosion.
Wetlands act like water filters.
There are four types of wetlands found in Ontario;
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swamps, bogs and fens.
These are found along the edges of rivers, streams, ponds and lakes.
They support many plants that are rooted in the soil and grow out
of the water called emergent plants. Cattails and Arrowheads are
two examples of emergent plants. Marshes receive their water from
the body of water next to them, groundwater, rain or snow. As a
result of this the water levels can vary from a few centimetres
up to two metres.
Swamps can be either isolated or found along rivers, streams and
lakes. They are formed as a result of flooding during the spring
snowmelt. They are covered with water for most of the year, although
they do not flood as deeply as marshes and can dry up during periods
of the trees that can be seen in a swamp include Eastern White Cedar,
Balsam Poplar, Red Maple, Silver Maple, Black Ash, Tamarack and
Spruce. A variety of shrubs are located here: Alder, Willow, Button
Bush, Winterberry and Dogwood. The ground is carpeted with mosses,
ferns and wildflowers including Marsh Marigold, Skunk Cabbage and
Bogs are commonly found in the northern parts of the province. They
are located in deep, bowl-like depressions and are filled with layers
of peat (slowly decaying plant material). The water becomes covered
with floating and decaying vegetation. The dominant vegetation here
is sphagnum moss. Some tree species found here are Black Spruce,
Tamarack and White Cedar. Plants include Leatherleaf, Labrador Tea,
Bog Rosemary, Blueberries, Cranberries, Three-leaved-Solomons
Seal, Sundew and Pitcher Plants.
These are areas that are usually located in low-lying areas of Northern
Ontario. Within Fens water slowly flows in and out of the peat layers.
However, fens may dry up in the warmer months. They are one of the
most interesting wildflower and insect habitats and are a great
place to find Orchids and other rare plants.
Fens are dominated by grasses, rushes, and sedges. Other plant life
consists of: Horsetails, Brown Moss, Tamarack, Black Spruce and
Birch. Wildlife in a Fen can include shrews, mice, voles, lemmings,
coyote, muskrat, raccoon, beaver and weasels.
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IN A WETLAND
RARE SPECIES IN THE MEDWAY VALLEY
are numerous plant and animal species that have become rare or endangered
all over the world. The causes of rarity include species at the
limits of their range, as well as the shortage of suitable habitat
due to human activity. It is important to protect their habitat
in order to prevent local extirpation.
There are seven rare plant species within the Medway Valley:
well, there are three rare fish species found in the River:
can also see a number of invasive plant species. These plants are
non-native to the area and will choke out the natural plants. Some
of the invasive plants you might see are:
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A NATURAL AREA
You want to enjoy your nature experience
screen and bug spray
Many species make this area their home
you observe something place it back where you found it
�You could trample wildlife and plants
disturb dead wood, it is decaying
away from leaflets three, it is poison ivy
human impact on the area
Your natural area is important to you
quieter you are, the more you will see
everything in its natural setting
back and visit again
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