Protecting our Terrestrial Natural Heritage
Terrestrial Natural Heritage includes all the plants and animals associated with land-based natural habitats, as opposed to purely aquatic environments. It also encompasses species associated with shoreline and wetland habitats that require dry land for at least a part of their life cycle.
Toronto and Region Conservation has identified more than 200 flora and fauna “species of concern” that are at risk in this region as a result of habitat loss from urban development or sensitivity to man-made pollutants. Sensitive species such as spring peepers and scarlet tanagers are indicators of how healthy our environment is. In fact these species are no longer found in the most heavily urbanized southern portion of the GTA. TRCA biologists have selected a survey area within the Bartley Smith Greenway to develop an inventory of the wildlife and plant communities present in the upper West Don watershed. From this information they can assess the overall quality of existing habitats and the enhancements needed to encourage wildlife colonization.
Urban river valleys such as the BSG have often survived in a relatively undisturbed state because they are unsuitable for development owing to irregular terrain or the possibility of flooding. We now recognize that these natural corridors are vital to the health of many animal species, since they allow intermingling of local populations, which is necessary for ensuring that genetic diversity is maintained. Restoring and protecting these natural areas will help to conserve and enhance biodiversity in this most heavily urbanized part of Ontario. In this way we can continue to experience the richness and variety of plant and animal life that has evolved here over millions of years.
If you spend time on the Greenway, you will discover that many species of birds and animals call the BSG home at different times during the year. Let us know about anything you see that looks interesting or unusual by clicking on “Report a Sighting” or the binoculars icon on the left panel. You’ll be helping us monitor how wildlife is flourishing in the valley.