Our “Forever Protected” series shares why each and every park belongs in Ontario Parks. In today’s post, social media specialist Alexander Renaud tells us the story of Mark S. Burnham.
For nearly two centuries, as the area around Mark S. Burnham Provincial Park went from wilderness to farmland and, finally, to a bustling city, the trees within its boundaries have remained relatively intact.
This lack of development is a rare phenomenon in southern Ontario. The internal ecosystem has been able to thrive and provide habitat for a variety of species, becoming one of the best preserved ancient woodlands in the county.
For these reasons, Mark S. Burnham belongs.
Representative Ecosystems by Mark S. Burnham
The Peterborough Drumlin field covers an area of about 5,000 km2, making it one of the largest of its kind in North America. It contains approximately 3000 well-developed drumlin ridges.
Drumlins are large hills, shaped like an inverted spoon or teardrop on its side, that were created by retreating glaciers.
The drumlin is made up of sand, gravel and glacial till deposits. You can even tell which direction a glacier was moving based on the formation of the drumlin. In this case, it shows ice moving from the northeast.
Mark S. Burnham has only one of these hills, but the elevation change it creates has shaped the forest around it. The ancient forest is divided into two dominant tree stands due to this geological feature.
To the west is a lower, swamp-like area filled with coniferous trees such as hemlock and cedar. Like most conifer-dominated areas, the forest floor is covered with very little vegetation due to the acidic nature of these plants.
Grasses, ferns and seedlings barely cover the forest floor.
To the east, above the drumlin, you will find the deciduous side of the park. Beech, ash and maple trees cover the sky with their full canopies, while the ground below is covered with plants and shrubs, including Jack-in-the-pulpit, Prickly Gooseberry and Northern Maidenhair Fern.
Even White Trilliums bloom on this side of the park!
Representative Species by Mark S. Burnham
In Ontario, you will find two different species of flying squirrels: the northern and the southern. Until recently, the Peterborough area seemed to be home only to northern flying squirrels.but studies show they are now being joined by populations of southern flying squirrels.
Southern flying squirrel. Photo: Jeff Bowman
It appears that consistently warmer winters and abundant food have allowed the southern flying squirrel to increase its northern range by an additional 200 km.
They have also expanded their desired habitat. Southern flying squirrels generally prefer large connected wilderness spaces, but populations are increasing in isolated forests, such as those found in Mark S. Burnham and Peter’s Woods provincial parks. A first for this flying (flying or gliding) species!
Southern flying squirrel. Photo: Michael Brown
Stay tuned for more “Protected Forever” posts about the incredible natural spaces that make up our network of provincial parks.
 Marich, AS 2016. Quaternary geology of the Lindsay and Peterborough areas, southern Ontario; Ontario Geological Survey, Open File Report 6321.
 Stabb, M. 1988. Status report on the southern flying squirrel.
Glaucomys volans in Canada. Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada, Ottawa, Ontario
 Bowman, Jeff and Holloway, Gillian and Malcolm, Jay and Middel, Kevin and Wilson, Paul. 2005. Dynamics of the northern range limits of southern flying squirrels: evidence for an energetic bottleneck. Canadian Journal of Zoology. 83. 1486-1494.