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The Cootes Paradise wetland is located at the west end of Hamilton Harbor, a natural bay on Lake Ontario. It supports a wide variety of plants and animals and is an important habitat of the region. During our field visit, we evaluated the various components used by the Southern Ontario Wetland Evaluation System (SOWES) to understand the value of the wetland in the ecosystem.
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According to SOWES, the four components to be evaluated include Biological Components, Social Components, Hydrological Components and Special Features Component. Due to time limits, only an abbreviated evaluation was carried out of three of the four components. The Special Features were not evaluated. Based on the scores obtained, the Cootes paradise wetland is an extremely valuable habitat of the region. We shall now look at individual scores to further understand the value of the wetland.
The Growing Degree-day is greater than 3600 and the soil type is a mix of clay, sand, and silt. Additionally, the wetland type is the marsh. These factors bring the Productivity score to 34.3 which is among the best score. Hence, the Cootes Paradise wetland has a high productivity value.
The total biodiversity score is 63. Considering that this is only an abbreviated score, it is quite high. This shows that the wetland is biologically extremely diverse and increases its value as an important habitat. Also, according to the royal Botanical garden, it is the most important waterfowl staging habitat and the largest nursery habitat in the region. Based on the findings of our field visit and its importance as a habitat for some of the rarer species,
Cootes paradise can be considered a wetland with high biodiversity value.
Cootes paradise got a very high score of 157 even in our abbreviated evaluation of the wetland. According to the Royal Botanical Garden, the urban location of the sanctuary makes it a vital link to other conservation areas in the region. Put together, this shows the high social value of the wetland.
Evaluating the wetland for Hydrological factors also shows the high value of Cootes Paradise in retaining the regions hydrological balance. On our abbreviated scale, Cootes Paradise obtained a score of 45.1. Thus we see that the wetland has extremely high value for biodiversity, social and hydrological factors. The Government of Ontario has designated Cootes Paradise as a Provincially Significant Class 1 Wetland. This highest designation by the Government of Ontario further confirms the findings of our field visit.
Even historically, the wetland has always held an important place. This was recognized as early as 1927 as can be seen in an article published in the Toronto Mail and Empire (Mcmaster.ca). Thus, we see that the Cootes paradise is an extremely important wetland in the Ontario Region of Canada.
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