Rare Alvars

Alvars rock! Complex ecosystems on a limestone base, alvars are extremely rare globally. North America’s alvars – what’s left of them—are mostly in Ontario. More than 90% of Great Lakes region alvars have been destroyed or damaged. Just 250 – 300 alvars remain – just 0.5% of Ontario’s land. The Ministry of Natural Resources says all Ontario alvars are rare.

AlvarExample of alvar at Ostrander Point
  • Alvars are some of the richest habitats in the world. Up to 1,000 species of insects exist only on alvars.Rare plants and bird species at risk (Bobolinks, Eastern Meadowlarks and Loggerhead Shrikes live on alvars.
  • Rare butterflies and snails, mosses and lichens also make their homes on alvars.

Gilead Power intends to grind up Ostrander Point’s irreplaceable alvar rock and turn it into gravel for access roads and foundation pads.

  • The environmental assessment report for the site says, “In addition to the direct removal and fragmentation of alvar habitat, areas adjacent to constructed roads and turbine pads have increased potential for the introduction or spread of exotic species.”
  • Toxic spills are possible.
  • The report says that in “compensation” for destroyed alvars, a meadow next to a parking lotshould be turned into an alvar and buckthorn should be controlled buckthorn for three years. The report does not explain how an alvar can be recreated simply by reseeding this area and controlling buckthorn.
  • A Swedish study found that some alvars which had been turned into farm fields still hadn’t reverted to alvar habitat after 50 years.


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