What is Alvar?

Alvar is something most people in Prince Edward County had probably not heard about until recently.We may have come across alvar, although we might not have realized it's a specific type of habitat. In the 1998 report, Conserving Great Lakes Alvars Final Technical Report of the International Alvar Conservation Initiative, alvar is defined as:

"Alvar ecosystems are grassland, savanna and sparsely vegetated rock barrens that develop on flat limestone or dolostone bedrock where soils are very shallow. Almost all of North America’s alvars occur within the Great Lakes basin, primarily in an arc from northern Lake Michigan across northern Lake Huron and along the southern edge of the Canadian Shieldalvar to include eastern Ontario and northwestern New York State. Most types of alvar communities are globally imperiled, and they support several globally rare species as well."

Nature Conservancy Canada defines alvar as: "The unique geological, post-glacial historic and physical stress characteristics that define an alvar set the stage for interdependent biological communities which simply cannot exist elsewhere.

The five main alvar types are alvar shrublands, alvar grasslands, alvar savannas, alvar pavements and alvar woodlands. Many alvars contain a multitude of listed and globally imperiled species, including many rare invertebrates and the globally endangered species. (from Nature Conservancy Canada)

Why do we need to protect the alvar in Prince Edward County?The South Shore of PEC has one of the few remaining undeveloped shoreline on Lake Ontario. It is the home to species at risk, threatened and endangered.It is a unique habitat as the above definitions explain.

Wildlife has the right to have a safe place to live and raise their young. If we don't speak out and protect the alvar and wetlands in this area, who will? We must protect this habitat for the wildlife and for future generations.