Researchers, scientists and professionals in a variety of related fields are approaching the rare property in a way unavailable to them at any other site. They are developing a vision that goes far into the future – something that can only be done because the land is held “in perpetuity.” As one of the scientists replied when asked why he was volunteering so much time to rare:
“rare is a charitable foundation with a unique focus in Canada – it owns property and encourages long-term research on ecological restoration and monitoring and integrates this into community education programs. There is no other organization like this in Canada. Some organizations fund research, some own property for conservation and related purposes, some focus on education about the environment. rare does all of this and does it in an important context, i.e. an urbanizing region where the threat to ecological structures and functions are greatest, the need for ecological restoration the largest, and the need for urbanites to have a place to go to both enjoy nature and understand the value of ecological research the most important.”
– Dr. Stephen Murphy
Assoc. Prof. Environment & Resource Studies,
University of Waterloo
The site in its present state can be seen as a series of large forested “islands” in a sea of farm fields and built-up urban areas. These islands are all that is left of what was once a continuous mix of forests and glades. Now the continuous landscape is one of farm fields, which provide open space but isolate the forests and wetlands.
As the site matures, the wooded areas will be added to and connected, and much of the flood plain returned to its natural riparian condition. The hedgerows will be allowed to develop and widen, providing much needed habitats for birds, butterflies, and small mammals. The overall effect will be to transform rare into a rich forested landscape with a series of open spaces nestled within it.
Many of the changes will happen slowly as areas are left to regenerate on their own. Other changes will be dramatic as scientists explore the effects of manipulating the landscapes. Because rare encourages both public and academic exploration and understanding of this place – ecologically, culturally, and historically – new ideas will transform our thinking and our ways of life. The science of ecological restoration itself will be advanced. And all of us will live within a more densely and richly varied landscape.