Haliburton Highlands Land Trust – 2020 Climate Change Project

Media Release – for immediate release October 20, 2020

The Haliburton Highlands Land Trust owns, manages and protects 5 properties in Haliburton County, representing about 1300 acres of land.  All four types of wetlands (marsh, swamp, bog, and fen) are found on our properties.

The HHLT’s interest in wetlands intensified after completing a 3-year project to design a unique barrier wall to reduce turtle road mortality.  This project was extremely successful and garnered national and international attention.

We knew protecting wetlands was important for wildlife habitat and enhancing water quality, but as the negative effects of climate change were being documented, our understanding of the importance of wetlands as a climate change adaptation strategy grew.

In 2013, 2017 and again in 2019, the Township of Minden Hills, County of Haliburton, experienced serious flooding and declared a state of emergency. Flooding and erratic weather patterns are a product of climate change.  Wetlands provide a critical function in regard to flood attenuation through the absorption of water during the spring run-off, the slowing of surface waters through wetland vegetation, and the redirection of surface water into the water table.  Further, wetlands are carbon sinks through active carbon sequestration and the retention of large volumes of peat found in bogs and fens.

Wetlands are subject to site alteration, development pressures and loss.  The current rate of wetland loss will result in greater socio-economic and environmental impacts from future floods, as well as a steady rate of carbon release.

In 2020, HHLT with funding from the RBC Foundation initiated a project to address the detrimental impacts of climate change through wetland protection and increased landowner education and awareness.

“We’re excited to be working with Haliburton Highlands Land Trust to tackle one of the most pressing issues of our time – climate change,” said Valerie Chort, Vice-President, Corporate Citizenship, RBC. “Using our more than money approach, we will leverage the assets in our ecosystem to proactively bring together charitable partners, along with the required experts, to build the type of multi-partner coalitions that are needed to address and solve our shared environmental challenges.”

The HHLT project has mapped the Lochlin Wetland Complex (LWC), a large complex representing 1,000 ha of wetlands in the County of Haliburton.  The LWC will be evaluated in accordance with the Ontario Wetland Evaluation System and the Wetland Evaluation Data and the Scoring Record will be submitted to the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources & Forestry for review and designation of the LWC as Provincially Significant.

Several landowners in the complex showed their support for wetland conservation by allowing our project biologist to visit their properties.

Bonnie and Greg Roe explained, “We were very pleased to offer the Haliburton Highlands Land Trust access to our property at Ritchie Falls, to allow Paul Heaven to work on their Lochlin Wetland Complex mapping project. Over the years we have been impressed with what they have done to preserve, and improve, packages of land throughout the county. As well, we have appreciated and enjoyed their various educational walks/events. In short, they are a very valuable asset to Haliburton County.”

This particular wetland complex is of special interest to HHLT because it promotes connectivity between three of our properties (Dahl Forest, Fred and Pearl Barry Wetland Reserve, and Barnum Creek Nature Reserve).  All of these properties have extensive wetlands and contribute to mitigating the effects of climate change.

Public education and awareness were also part of this project.  HHLT contacted landowners in this complex to increase their awareness of the special role they play in good stewardship of their properties.  These landowners and the public were invited to a hands-on, interactive workshop on wetlands and climate change.  Participants at the workshop learned about the value of wetlands and the ecosystem services they provide.  All participants were encouraged to take home an HHLT booklet on best management practices for protecting wetlands as a climate change adaptation strategy.

By increasing public awareness of the importance of wetlands and mapping and evaluating the Lochlin Wetland Complex as a candidate for provincial significance, the HHLT is proud to partner with RBC to do its part in climate change adaptation.

 

For more information please contact Joan Duhaime, joan.duhaime@hotmail.com

or Christel Furniss, office administrator at admin@haliburtonlandtrust.ca or

705-457-3700.

 

admin@haliburtonlandtrust.ca

739 Mountain Street

P.O. Box 1478

Haliburton, ON  K0M 1S0

 

T: 705.457.3700 www.haliburtonlandtrust.ca