by Tineke Kuiper
To all of you who enjoy the natural beauty of the flora and fauna of Mississippi Mills and would like to protect it for future generations, an important vote will take place this Tuesday (September 16, 2014) at the municipal building, 3131 Old Perth Rd, at 6:15 PM. The Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists have worked closely with the Mississippi Valley Conservation Authority and Town staff to develop a Natural Heritage System (NHS) that is appropriate for our municipality, based on additional guidance from the Ministry of Natural Resources and other sources. In addition to the protection of provincially significant wetlands and ANSIs, such as the Burnt Lands and Appleton Wetlands, current legislation also requires the identification and protection of significant woodlands and the identification of an NHS for the municipality of Mississippi Mills. A preliminary draft NHS was provided to Staff on July 2013, and a concept plan for an NHS was presented to Council on May 20, 2014, along with background documentation.
An NHS consists of connected Natural Heritage areas (Core areas), whereby all the individual parts are linked, often through rivers and creeks, and work together as a system to maintain biological and geological diversity, ecological functions, and viable populations of native species. An ecologically based NHS is an important (municipal) planning approach that allows us to look at the overall landscape level — the bigger picture — and counteract fragmentation of the landscape, the process by which large interconnected natural areas are converted into a series of smaller, often isolated natural areas that no longer function ecologically as they did prior to fragmentation, principally due to ‘edge effects,’ and to the inability of small areas to support viable populations of species that have large territories or home ranges. A piecemeal approach to development contributes to the problem. Thus, an NHS is more effective for natural heritage conservation, and it helps in directing proposed development to areas where there will be the least impact on our Natural Heritage areas.
If you value the many plant and animal species that Mississippi Mills is still fortunate to have, please show your support for adopting an NHS by attending the Council of the Whole meeting, which is open to the public, on Tuesday, September 16. Let’s make our Town one that sets an example for others to follow.