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      Biosphere Reserve Information



Photo: Willy Waterton
  General Description   The Niagara Escarpment Biosphere Reserve in Ontario stretches 725 km from Lake Ontario (near Niagara Falls) to the tip of the Bruce Peninsula (between Georgian Bay and Lake Huron). The Escarpment corridor crosses two major biomes: boreal needle leaf forests in the north and temperate broadleaf forest in the south. It also includes wetland complexes, cliff faces, slopes and aquatic ecosystems.
The biosphere reserve includes the provincial Niagara Escarpment Plan Area and two national parks. There is a backbone of strictly protected lands at and near the cliff face. The biosphere reserve is managed according to a series of land use designations with decreasing levels of various protection corresponding to core, buffer and co-operation (transition) zones.
About 120,000 people live in the area, including 1,000 First Nations. The number rises to 1,090,000 when including the population of the urbanized areas straddling the biosphere reserve limits (2002). Main occupations vary, from wine production, tourism and tender and mixed fruit farming in the south to cattle farming and adventure tourism in the north.
A web site, printed materials and a monitoring and habitat enhancement program help raise public awareness about the aims of the biosphere reserve.
  Major ecosystem type   Temperate broadleaf forests or woodlands
  Major habitats & land cover types   Mixed forests with sugar maple (Acer saccharum), red maple (A. rubrum), beech (Fagus grandifolia) and red oak (Quercus rubra); escarpment rim woodland includes eastern white cedar (Thuja occidentalis) and white birch (Betula papyrifera) along with ferns and bryophytes; lake shores characterized by Thuja occidentalis, willow (Salix spp.) and Physocarpus opulifolius; shallow lake vegetation with Salix spp., Cornus sp., Scirpus sp. and Typha latifolia; bog complex supporting Larix laricina, Thuja occidentalis and Rhamnus alnifolia; limestone cliffs, crevices and talus slopes with ferns; caves; agroecosystems with maize, mixed grains, fruits etc.; forestry systems with sugar maple (Acer saccharum), oaks (Quercus rubra and Q. alba) and pines (Pinus strobus, P. sylvestris and P. resinosa)
  Location   4310' to 4515N; 7903' to 8140'W
  Area (hectares)    
  Total   190,270
  Core area(s)   ~ 26,300
  Buffer zone(s)   93,340
  Transition area(s) when given   ~ 87,600
  Altitude (metres above sea level)   -90 to +560
  Year designated   1990
  Administrative authorities   Niagara Escarpment Commission
  Brief description   Acidic deposition
Anthropogenic pollutants
Cultural anthropology
Fish/wildlife population dynamics
Biological surveys of flora and fauna
Ecosystem studies/succession/fire effects
Ecosystem restoration
Invasive species monitoring
Great Lakes level changes
13 SI/MAB forest biodiversity plots
Mining reclamation
Recreation/tourism impacts
Mapping of the different zones of the biosphere reserve
Tree health assessment
The Biosphere Reserve has developed a monitoring framework
identifying key environmental indicators
Indicators of sustainability relevant to economic activities:
Forest fragmentation satellite image analysis; forest interior bird nesting success
Water quality monitoring
  Specific variables...    
  Abiotic   Abiotic factors, acidic deposition/acid rain, hydrology, monitoring/methodologies, pollution, pollutants.
  Biodiversity   Alien/Invasive/Exotic/Introduced species, biodiversity, ecosystem assessment, fauna, fires/fire ecology, fishes, flora, forest systems, methodologies, phytosociology/succession, population genetics/population dynamics, restoration/rehabilitation/redevelopment, wildlife.
  Socio-economic   Anthropological studies/Anthropology, indicators of sustainability, mining, recreation, tourism.
  Integrated monitoring   Environmental quality, impact and risk studies/environmental impact, mapping, monitoring/methodologies, planning and zoning measures/zonation.
  Contact address   Richard Murzin
Canadian Biosphere Reserve Association
c/o Niagara Escarpment Commission, 232 Guelph Street
L7G 4B1 Georgetown, Ontario
  Telephone   (1.905) 877 8144
  Fax   (1.905) 873 7452
  Web site

Last updated: 26/02/2007

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