World Wetlands Day is the perfect opportunity to introduce our newest provincial park: Brockville Long Swamp Fen!
How are new provincial parks created?
Designating a new park is a long and complicated process. Acquisition of the Brockville Long Swamp Fen properties began in 1994.
Ontario Parks (part of the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry) collaborated with partners and donors, including the Nature Conservancy of Canada and the Ontario Heritage Trust, to add Brockville Long Swamp Fen to the provincial park system.
The park was formally regulated under the Provincial Parks and Conservation Reserves Act on July 1, 2017, officially ensuring its continued protection.
Why was Brockville Long Swamp Fen “parked”?
In one word? Wetlands.
Wetlands play a vital role in supporting Ontario’s rich biodiversity and providing essential ecosystem services that Ontarians depend on for their health and well-being.
Wetland conservation can play an important role in mitigating climate change by reducing greenhouse gas concentrations. Wetlands regulate temperature, reduce the heat island effect (the added heat that accumulates in urban areas compared to nearby rural areas), curb the impacts of droughts, and reduce flood/erosion risks and negative impacts. in water quality. Forested wetlands are especially important because they can store significant amounts of carbon.
If the name doesn’t give it away, our newest park contains three of the four types of wetlands found in Ontario: marshes, marshes, and marshes.
Swamps are especially rare in southern Ontario. These groundwater-fed wetlands are somewhat like swamps, except that they are alkaline rather than acidic and their waters are rich in dissolved minerals. They are less acidic and richer in nutrients than swamps.
This allows for a greater diversity of plant life, including a variety of sedges, grasses and sedges. Due to their special chemistry, they often contain unusual and/or rare plants.
This large wetland is an important headwater and recharge area for both the Rideau River and the South Nation River. That means it is a source of some of the water for these rivers and is also a place where water enters underground aquifers.
What species does the new park protect?
Brockville Long Swamp Fen Provincial Park is an area of natural and scientific interest of provincial significance, and this biologically diverse area provides habitat for several at-risk species, including a variety of reptiles and amphibians.
The park also protects a variety of different types of forests.
One of the trees you can see growing there is the Tamarack, which is an unusual conifer that turns gold in the fall and loses its needles.
In spring, its branches are covered with soft green patches of new needles.
While not uncommon in Ontario, it is a tree that is generally seen more often in wild areas or further north.
Because this park is new to us, we don’t yet know all the different species that use it. We know it provides an important large area of intact habitat for typical wetland species such as frogs and turtles.
Will Ontario parks set up campgrounds or trails?
Brockville Long Swamp Fen Provincial Park is a nature reserve, focused on protection rather than recreation. We want to keep this expanse of wetland protected and pristine.
If you pass through the area, enjoy the swamp from the roadside and don’t walk into the wetland. While the site is known for its diversity of unusual plants, the same plants that people visited in the past are easily trampled.
If you spend time observing the wetland from the road, help us catalog the inhabitants of our newest park. Report wildlife sightings through citizen science apps like Ontario Reptile & Amphibian Atlas and eBird.