On November 1, 2010, with generous support from nature organizations, charitable foundations and more than 160 individuals, the Thames Talbot Land Trust was able to purchase the Tanager Tract, a 40-ha tract of Carolinian hardwood forest near West Lorne in West Elgin.
The Tanager Tract is part of a 380-ha forest known as the West Lorne Woods, a Provincially Significant Wetland (PSW) and an Area of Natural and Scientific Interest (ANSI).
This woodland, widely regarded as one of the best examples of Carolinian forest in Elgin County and one its top botanical sites, is a precious remnant of the region's original extensively forested landscape.
It is home to many animal species-at-risk including the Cerulean Warbler and Spotted Turtle. Its deep forest is rare habitat for many uncommon breeding birds, such as the spectacular Scarlet Tanager.
This rich forest nurtures the growth of many hardwood trees unique to the Carolinian Zone. Large specimens of Eastern Flowering Dogwood, Black Gum, Sassafras and Swamp White Oak are abundant. The forest's upland and swampy sections have a rich understorey of Spicebush, Witch Hazel and many varieties of ferns.
As a TTLT-protected area, commercial logging has ceased and the Tanager Tract has become available to the community for passive recreational use and quiet contemplation.
An old logging path meandering along a well-drained sandy ridge provides an opportunity to develop a hiking trail through the property. This trail would allow visitors to walk beneath the towering Sassafras, Sugar Maple, Black Cherry, Red and White oaks, and at the same time view trees more adapted to the wet lowlands, such as Swamp White Oak and Black Gum.
The Conservation Challenge
Across the Carolinian region nature is in retreat, species are going extinct and the safety of our air and water are in doubt.
Unless we act to protect areas like the Tanager Tract now, many of these beautiful areas will disappear before our children and grandchildren have a chance to enjoy them.
Outdoor recreation is a part of our life and protecting natural areas ensures that we continue to have places to hike and enjoy the wonders of nature.