Wetlands are a diverse and valuable resource
Wetlands are a fragile and critical part of our natural heritage. They are considered the most biologically diverse of all ecosystems, and fulfill a number of functions of value to all life forms – and of great value to our enjoyment of the lakes.
Wetlands play an essential role in protecting water quality in the lakes. Large wetland plants act as the livers and lungs of our lakes, filtering heavy metals and other pollutants from water and sediments and releasing oxygen into the water to support aquatic species and human health.
Wetlands also store and cleanse surface water runoff from the land and slowly release it. They buffer the shoreline from fluctuating water levels and wave action and help regulate water levels to prevent flooding on land.
Aquatic plants in wetlands compete with invasive, non-native species and algae for light, and limit the growth of these weeds and jelly-like floating algae by absorbing excess nutrients. They also provide critical habitat for many different amphibians, reptiles, fish, birds, beneficial insects, and mammals that would not otherwise survive.
Our wetlands are unique
Wetlands on Clear, Ston(e)y and White Lakes are geographically unique because they are located at the edge of the Canadian Shield, where it meets the limestone-based lands to the south. As a result, our wetlands are more diverse than many others.
Our wetlands and the land immediately around them support an exceptional abundance and diversity of vegetative and animal species. They provide very productive habitat for several Species at Risk such as Northern Map and Blanding’s Turtles, and the Five-lined Skink, Ontario’s only lizard. Important Muskellunge and Bass species rely heavily on these wetlands for spawning and nursery habitat. As well, these wetlands provide nesting and feeding sites for Loons and other waterfowl – away from busier parts of the lake.
The wetlands around our lakes also provide numerous recreational and educational opportunities. More and more lake residents and visitors are taking advantage of kayaks and canoes to quietly explore the many wetland nooks and the wildlife they support.
Wetlands provide an ideal outdoor classroom for youth programs at camps and resorts, and those organized by the lake associations. The Environment Council is also working with various environmental partners toward development of a wetland and shoreline education program for youth.
Wetlands and Development
Most of the 900 hectares of our lake wetlands have been assessed and designated with Provincially Significant Wetland status by the Ministry of Natural Resources. This designation calls for specific protections under both Provincial and Municipal policy. As such, developers and municipalities are obliged to assume responsibility for adhering to all Provincial policies and associated mapping when lands are being reviewed for development.