Ecological Importance

The Copeland is the largest upland forest south of Algonquin Park. The majority of it is a large deciduous forest with many species of trees. It is an important resting and feeding area for many species of birds that nest north of the Copeland. It also has a large and significant population of nesting birds such as Wood thrush. The leaf litter provides habitat for insects, amphibians and reptiles. Such a large forest is very important in reducing the effects of climate change as a mature tree removes a large quantity of carbon dioxide from the air.

Wetlands help to prevent flooding. They act like sponges and absorb water after storms. The water is released slowly when the water in the river is lower. The wetlands act as staging areas for migrating water fowl and nesting areas for other species of birds. Many other species of wildlife that do not live in the wetland also make use of it. Wetlands also purify water and recycle nutrients to feed fish and other organisms in rivers and streams. Ponds in the Copeland provide habitat for turtles.

All species of turtles in Ontario are considered species at risk. Spending time in a forest is beneficial to both human physical and mental health. Numerous species of bird, insect, amphibian, reptile and plant rely on the forest interior habitat in order to survive. The negligible amount of forest interior habitat left in Southern Ontario accounts for many species at risk. The Copeland Forest is supporting a number of these species.

A four season inventory was conducted by Jones and Morton in 2011. In making the inventory many species of flora and fauna of conservation concern were observed including the Olive-sided flycatcher, Yellow rail, Canada warbler, Louisiana  waterthrush, Red-bellied woodpecker, Milk snake, Snapping turtle and Monarch butterfly.

Many species considered rare in Simcoe County were also observed including Blue marsh violet, Schweintz’s sedge, Heath aster, Ebony spleenwort, Rough bellflower, Swamp fly honeysuckle and Showy mountain ash.

Another study by the University of Guelph found the presence of Calicioid lichens which can only exist in old growth forests, prompting the author to classify the Copeland Forest as a “Young Old Growth Forest”.