Sydenham Field Naturalists
In reaction to the severe deforestation in an area once rich in woodlands and tallgrass prairie, the Sydenham Field Naturalists club was founded in 1985 with a mandate to enjoy, protect and restore the wildlife and habitat of Chatham-Kent and South Lambton in southwestern Ontario.
The group stewards some of Ontario’s most rare ecosystems that include ecologically important wetlands and grasslands. While some protection is afforded these sensitive habitats, much of the landscape remains vulnerable to habitat loss and degradation. The area also supports a globally significant Important Bird Area where king rails and least bitterns breed, and where hundreds of thousands of waterfowl such as tundra swans and canvasbacks stop during migration.
One of the group’s more recent conservation victories is the preservation of a woodland near Wallaceburg that was slated for clearing; 4.5 hectares of a mixture of old-growth trees, American sycamores, Shumard oaks and swamp white oaks are now protected.
In collaboration with its many partners, the club has undertaken a range of restoration, education and stewardship activities over the years that include arranging tours to locations that demonstrate the club’s nesting box program for bluebirds, wood ducks and screech owls. Members spend an estimated 100 hours annually planting native species such as spice bush, trilliums and bloodroot to restore Wallaceburg Sycamore woods. They will soon add the management of two hectares of pawpaw trees to their list of stewardship duties.
This member group was part of a strategic planning process with the local municipality to increase the percentage of forested area in Chatham-Kent from three to 10 percent, which Council subsequently incorporated into the official plan. In all likelihood, the Sydenham Field Naturalists will achieve this milestone.
Learn more about the Sydenham Field Naturalist club at its website, www.sydenhamfieldnaturalists.ca.