Friends  of  the  Cawthra  Bush


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Scanned copy, if there are errors, please e-mail me with corrections:
Page - - Mississauga News, Jan. 21/98 - Guest Column

Much to consider at Cawthra Bush

Have you ever seen a duck perched in a tree, a mole salamander, or a carpet of trilliums, in an old-growth forest in Mississauga? These and other unusual natural wonders exist in the Cawthra Bush which is recognized as one of our most environmentally significant and sensitive areas. The Friends of the Cawthra Bush (FCB) is a group of concerned residents acting as stewards for this community treasure. We have been hard at work since 1994 to protect life and natural processes vital to our well being by empowering residents with the facts and inviting them to participate in the public process.

In January of 1994, the City passed a citywide Woodlot Management Plan that allows for the logging and tree farming in forested areas throughout the City. It was first applied to the Cawthra Bush without any public input or consultation. More than 1,500 trees were removed from the bush before the City listened to the public outcry. Mississaugans didn't want their forest full of stumps or sold for firewood. Developed by foresters who regard trees as marketable resources, this plan did not acknowledge an ecosystem approach to forest management. Former Councillor Harold Kennedy recognized the community's concerns and requested the creation of a citizen's advisory committee. However, the newly formed Urban Forest Management Advisory Committee (UFMAC) endorsed the original plan not to restore vegetation removed from the adjacent area cleared by the watermain construction. It was the FCB that successfully petitioned for the planting of the forest edge that exists today.

Four years and thousands of staff hours later history is about to repeat itself with two deeply flawed management plans known as the Cawthra Woods Management Plan and the Cawthra Woods Implementation Plan. These unchanged plans, which have been endorsed by the UFMAC, will be the basis for forest management thought the City. There are many issues of concern.

* The contaminant-loaded runoff from the QEW is likely to be harming the forest and yet no water tests have been presented.

* As a result of not pursuing the original commitment to tunnel, the water main drainage system is lowering the perched water table.

* The Cawthra Bush is still viewed as a recreational opportunity.

* Mosquitoes, which are vital to forest ecology and are an important issue to many residents, are not mentioned.

* They decline to update their report to include the recent and significant mole salamander, discoveries, one of which is rare and threatened. The habitat requirements (vernal pools) for these salamanders are such that they would require restoring the original ecology.

While the City has a formal contract that involves the Credit Valley Conservation Authority (CVCA) and the CVCA have recommended a wetlands evaluation they haven't been asked to review the plans.

The plans state "group selection remains an option in future management."

Jocelyn Webber, a botanist who led the charge to save the Creditview Bog, says it best in her guest column in the News in November of 1994; "Foresters have traditionally chosen to look only at the trees and to manipulate species composition, structure, and individual tree size through cutting. Ecologists take a broader-based approach to natural area management and all components of the system are considered in developing a management plan."

We believe the environmental significance of the Cawthra Bush can be Increased through proper studies, habitat enhancement, and environmental restoration. The FCB invites all those who are interested in learning more about salamanders to attend a public meeting on Jan. 29 at 7 to 8:30 p.m. at the Central Library.

Peter Phillips is the former president of the Friends of the Cawthra Bush.

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