Sunset at Minesing Wetlands, Ontario (Photo by Ethan Meleg)
One of the largest wetlands in Ontario
The Minesing Wetlands, located 20 kilometres west of Barrie, is one of the largest and least disturbed wetlands in southern Ontario. The unique wetlands cover over 16,000 acres (6,515 hectares), and along with their significant surrounding buffer areas make up a total area of over 27,000 acres (10,936 hectares). This rare marsh, swamp and fen complex has been recognized as a key area for wetland conservation by the Eastern Habitat Joint Venture of the North American Waterfowl Management Plan. Since 1974, the Nature Conservancy of Canada and its partners have protected over 12,000 acres (4,972 hectares) of significant habitat in the Minesing Wetlands.
The Minesing Wetlands are recognized as an Internationally Significant Ramsar boreal wetland, a Provincially Significant Wetland and a Provincially Significant Life Science Area of Natural and Scientific Interest. Conservation lands in this important natural area are owned and managed by a number of conservation partners, including the Nature Conservancy of Canada, the Nottawasaga Valley Conservation Authority, Ducks Unlimited Canada, the County of Simcoe and Ontario Parks. The Minesing Wetlands offer one of the largest and best examples of fen habitat in southern Ontario, and one of the most diverse undisturbed wetland tracts in Canada.
The wetland is home to many nationally listed species at risk, including turtles, snakes and amphibians. It plays an important role during spring migration for a number of wetland birds and waterfowl, who congregate in the flooded marshes that resemble a large lake, before continuing their journey further north. The Minesing Wetlands are also the only known Canadian home of the Hine’s emerald dragonfly, a globally rare and nationally endangered species with brilliant green eyes. Minesing Wetlands is also home to one of the largest and oldest great blue heron colonies in Ontario.
Important ecosystems at the heart of the water cycle
A healthy ecosystem features a balance among all its elements — plants, animals, humans, soil, air and water. Ecosystems are at the heart of the water cycle, including forests, grasslands and wetlands.
Wetlands are unique ecosystem areas where land and water habitats meet, creating one of the most productive habitats in North America for vulnerable wetland birds and animals.
Over 65 percent of the world’s wetlands have disappeared since the 1900s
Wetlands provide important ecological services, including flood control, water quality improvements, fish habitat and recreation. They are some of earth’s most productive ecosystems; they are also one of our planet's most threatened. In Canada, we are fortunate to have about 25 percent of the world’s remaining wetlands. Ontario features some of the finest wetlands in Canada, considered to be among the richest habitats in North America.
Top 5 Minesing Facts
1. One of southern Ontario’s largest wetlands.
2. Contains over 1,000 species of plants and animals, including rare species such as lake sturgeon, Blanding’s turtle and cerulean warbler.
3. The Minesing Wetlands look a bit like eastern North America standing on its head: boreal-like swamp forests can be found in the south, while moist hackberry woodlands (more common to places like South Carolina) can be found in the north.
4. The Minesing Wetlands are a wetland of international significance on par with the Everglades in Florida (same classification; less alligators).
5. Many rivers, including the Mad River, Willow Creek and Nottawasaga River, meet in Minesing before draining out into Georgian Bay. You can canoe or kayak the rivers and paddle right over their banks in the spring, into the expanses of flooded swamp forest and open marsh.
The Heart of Minesing Wetlands
Our donors are the heart of our conservation work in Ontario. We are supported by an incredible community — a support base that is fundamental to our success. The successful conservation of Minesing Wetlands would not have been achieved without our donors, including Ontario Power Generation (OPG). It is through this partnership that we were able to foster and enhance biodiversity by completing a Landscape Conductivity Study, addressing stream restoration and stewardship needs, monitoring rare species and classifying vegetation communities in Minesing Wetlands.
“OPG is proud to support the Nature Conservancy of Canada’s work in the Minesing Wetlands. Through science-based habitat stewardship, NCC is working to enhance water quality and improve forest health, which will contribute to the protection of Ontario’s biodiversity,” said Susan Rapin, director, environmental services, OPG.
OPG’s Regional Biodiversity Program is strategically focused on funding efforts that contribute to the protection and restoration of a natural heritage system of habitat cores and corridors across Ontario. For more information about OPG, please visit opg.com.
“The goal of life is to make your heartbeat match the beat of the universe, to match your nature with Nature.” ― Joseph Campbell, A Joseph Campbell Companion: Reflections on the Art of Living
Minesing Wetlands is a testament to NCC and our donors’ commitment to protecting our most important natural areas so they will be here for our children and their children to enjoy. Together, we will match our heartbeats to nature as we forge ahead to create a tangible, and lasting, natural legacy.
Alien invasive species are spreading into Ontario's wetlands, threatening the wetlands' ability to perform critical ecosystem services. Alien (non-native or exotic) species are those that have been introduced outside of their natural range by humans. Not all introduced species are invasive — a species is only called invasive if its presence or spread threatens native species, communities and ecosystems.
Why do some non-native species become invasive while others don't?
Invasive species typically share the following traits:
- adapt to diverse conditions
- reproduce quickly
- have few or no predators
- can out-compete native species for resources such as food and habitat
Fortunately, the Minesing Wetlands are still in relatively good condition and are mostly unaffected by problematic invasive species. They still provide many ecosystem services, have very high native species diversity and many of the invasive species populations can be managed with continued efforts in the coming years.
You can help protect Minesing Wetlands by taking the following steps:
- Learn to identify invasive species and how to control them on your property.
- Report your invasive species sightings.
- Reduce the spread of invaders.
Know your foe
By being able to identify invasive species, you can help conservation managers by reporting sightings, preventing their spread and controlling invasions on your own property. Learn more by visiting the Nature Conservancy of Canada's Invasive Species Gallery.
If you are having trouble identifying a species, try consulting one of these online resources: