Tuesday , 6 June 2023
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RBG plans controlled burn of Cootes Paradise grasslands

Burn will actually improve grassland growth

The RBG is advising residents that there will be a controlled burn of grasslands on the South Side of Cootes Paradise, Friday from 11:30 am to 4 pm.

Controlled Burning

The goal of a controlled burn is to mimic a natural process that sustains and renews the threatened Tallgrass Prairie and Savannah ecosystems clearing invading trees and Eurasian invasive plant species and opening the area to the regeneration of oak and tallgrass plant species. Controlled burns are undertaken in the spring or fall and site monitoring determines when there is a need for a prescribed burn.

In  Cootes Paradise’s south side and along the Princess Point Trail (~1km) can be found two rare habitat types, Tallgrass Prairie and Oak Savanah. A series of interpretive signs will teach visitors about the ecology of these habitats and their connection to the location’s Indigenous history. Almost 99% of our region’s prairies and savannahs were lost after European settlement. Today, RBG’s nature sanctuaries contain extremely valuable pockets of remnant oak savannah and tallgrass prairie habitat. These remaining ecosystems are under threat from succession to forest, invasive species and a changing climate.

Prairies and savannahs also house a high diversity of Ontario’s rare and endangered flora and fauna, another of many reasons to maintain and restore the integrity of these ecological communities. Ecological disturbance such as fire is critical to maintain grassland habitats.

Grassland plants have evolved deep root systems to adapt to fire and drought. Without fire, shrubs and trees invade and shade the prairie flowers and grasses, eventually converting the prairie into a completely different ecosystem. To prevent that scenario, we prescribe spring burns that introduce fire in a way that is highly controlled and safe resulting in renewed habitat for rare species. 

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