there is a multitude of forest types from the famous rainforests
in South America to the dense pine forests of boreal Canada. In
southern Ontario, there are two main forest regions: the Great Lakes-St.
Lawrence forest region and the Eastern Deciduous forest region.
The Hamilton area is entirely within the Eastern Deciduous forest
region and exists near its northern limit.
of its location at the southernmost point in Canada, this eastern
deciduous forest region has much in common with forests of the north
to mid-eastern United States. Characterized by rich and varied flora
and fauna, this ecosystem can be found as far south as the Carolinas
in the U.S. but occurs nowhere else in Canada, and so is commonly
called 'Carolinian' forest and there are some very good examples
of it in the Hamilton area. This ecosystem contains the greatest
number of plant and animal species of any Canadian ecosystem, but
only exists in 1% of Canada's total land area. The presence of this
forest type in our locale is in conflict with the most populated
area of Canada. There are many local efforts underway to preserve
and restore this habitat.
A Carolinian forest in spring. Photo by Alan Ernst.
the Carolinian forest region, there are pockets of other forest
types that are not as diverse but have species in common with the
Carolinian forest around them. These other forests tend to be dominated
by either maples or oaks.
Maple Leaves. Photo by Alan Ernst.
Maple forest, dominated by the tall and stately Acer saccharum
and with very few other large trees present, is a familiar sight
to those who have grown up in the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence forest
regions of Southern Ontario and Quebec. There are pockets of this
kind of forest in the Carolinian region as well, particularly where
it has been maintained through human intervention. Going to the
'sugar shack' to watch maple syrup being made is a very traditional
activity in late winter when the Sugar Maple sap is flowing. This
activity is often people's first experience in this kind of forest.
& Oak/Maple Forest
are some forest pockets in the Carolinian forest region of Ontario
which contain a greater number of oaks and maples together than
elsewhere. These are referred to as Oak and Oak-Maple forests.
Red Oak. Photo courtesy of the Kansas Forest Service.
both Oak and Maple trees occur throughout the Carolinian forest,
they form the major tree components in these pockets.
species are the Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum) and Red Maple
(Acer rubrum) and oaks such as the Red Oak (Quercus rubra),
White Oak (Quercus alba) and the Bur Oak (Quercus macrocarpa).