Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
1. What is the purpose of
monitoring the natural vegetation in the Lake Simcoe watershed, we can
assess the state of biodiversity and quality of natural cover, as well
as detect and monitor changes in natural vegetation (due to invasive
species impacts, climate change, land use and development practices,
natural cover fragmentations, and other presently unforeseen factors).
There is currently no monitoring program for the land-based ecosystems
in the watershed, and as a result very little site-level vegetation
information exists for the area. This project will help establish a
baseline understanding of the condition and biodiversity of natural
cover, which is necessary for detecting and forecasting any future
changes and impacts. The monitoring information is also a critical
component of adaptive management and strategic landscape planning,
which ensures that natural cover biodiversity and functions are
maintained, protected and enhanced.
2. Why do you need to
Lake Simcoe Protection Plan (LSPP) was finalized in 2009. This plan to
protect the lake and its watershed includes a monitoring component for
terrestrial features. This project will help to inform and report on
many of the requirements of the plan so that we can set up a regular
monitoring program for the watershed.
3. What kind of data are
are collecting information on plant species diversity and abundance,
the structure of the natural cover, wildlife species observed, soil
type and moisture content, forest regeneration, and the amount of dead
wood. This project will use the Vegetation Sampling Protocol (VSP) that
was developed by the MNR
and the Faculty of Forestry, University of
Toronto. More information on the VSP can be found on this UofT website.
4. Why do you need to
sample on private
cover occurs across a range of environments and vegetation communities
that do not follow property and ownership boundaries. In the Lake
Simcoe watershed the majority of land (over 80%), and thus natural
cover, is privately owned. For this reason, if we are to get an
accurate and complete picture about the natural cover, sampling across
both public and private land is necessary.
5. How do you choose the
sampling locations were selected based on a rigorous sampling design
that captures the diversity of natural cover types and environmental
conditions in the Lake Simcoe watershed. The sampling design for the
watershed is part of the larger VSP sampling grid for southern /
settled Ontario. The VSP sampling grid is systematic at the watershed
level, from which a set of random locations were selected as actual
6. How many plots are
involved in this
project has identified about 283 plots for the sub-areas of the Lake
Simcoe watershed involved in this study, of which one to a maximum of
15 are identified on a single private property or land parcel.
7. Will the data
change or impact my property?
No. The data collection will not change or impact the
anything else on your property. A survey team of two to four people
will enter on foot and the crew takes care not to damage any part of
the property. The vegetation inventories are done by observation and
nothing will be removed from your property. The only physical
alteration to your property is a small auger hole (diameter
approximately 1.5 inches or 4 cm) that will be made so that we can
measure soil properties (texture and drainage). This hole will be
filled after the soil sampling is finished.
properties that will be
resampled in the future, a ground-level marker (similar to photos
below) may be left to mark the
sampling plot, if permission is granted by the landowner. These stakes
will be driven fully into the ground and will be searched out using a
metal detector or other means. The stakes in the photos below, left
partially above ground are to be driven deep into the ground at the end
of the field season.
Above Images: Examples of survey stake used for future re-sampling (2016)
8. Can I refuse
permission to participate
in this project?
Yes. The choice to participate is completely up to you.
will not enter your property without your permission to do so.
9. Will information
about my property be released to the public?
Specific information on each property will be combined with data from
across the watershed and generalized over the larger area. Specific
properties will not be mentioned to protect landowner privacy and all
publicly released statistics will be general.
10. Can landowners have
access to the data
The results of this study will be freely shared with the land
per their request. This may take some time after the completion of the
inventories as the data will need to be analyzed. Individual survey
results from your property can also be provided to you on
request and will
typically be available in the Fall or Winter following sampling. Please
find here example of the landowner data reports.
on the thumbnail to enlarge the image.
As a private
landowner what are the
benefits to me?
specific plot information gathered on your property could assist you in
the planning and management of your property by giving you information
about what plants, animals and soil types you have on your land. For
example, tree measurements from your property could contribute to your
forest management plan. In addition, you will be contributing to a
greater understanding of the Lake Simcoe watershed, its health, and an
understanding of how the natural cover changes over time. This
information will help inform better policies and management in the
watershed, and your participation provides the opportunity for your
voice to be heard in this process.
12. What happens if you
find a rare species
on my property?
study is for monitoring purposes only, no actions will take place, and
no restrictions will be placed on your property as a result of your
participation in this study.
13. Will this project
affect how I use my
the purpose of this project is to monitor and collect accurate
information about natural cover in the watershed and how it is changing
over time. It is not connected to any regulatory mechanisms
control land use.
14. Can I join the field
crews during field
Yes, you are welcome to join the field crew on your
for any part, or the duration, of sampling.
15. When will fieldwork be occurring?
will be notified if sampling is to occur on your property. However,
specific dates when your property would be visited can be requested.
16. How long does it take
to sample a plot?
the two- to four-person crew has arrived at the plot it takes between
1-3 hours to gather all of the information we need. The exact time
spent at each plot will depend on the walking distance required as well as the complexity of vegetation at the
17. How many visits to
each plot are
visit should be all that is required, however a second follow-up visit
may be necessary depending on the site and weather conditions. After
this summer’s initial sampling visit, the plot on your property
sampled as part of a long-term monitoring program every 5-10
years. Should this happen, you will be notified of any future
visits a few months before the next sampling season, and we will ask
for renewed permission to access your property. We will ask for
permission to enter your property before every sampling season, and you
may cancel your involvement in the project at any point.
18. Who is collecting the
qualified and specially-trained field crew has been hired by the
University of Toronto’s Faculty of Forestry to conduct this
project. This crew is led by Dr. Danijela Puric-Mladenovic,
and includes some Master of Forest Conservation interns,
who will use a portion of the sampling data for their graduate paper /
19. Is this project
related to other
projects in Ontario?
In 2011 and 2012, a similar sampling effort was undertaken within the
Niagara Escarpment Plan Area when about 110 plots were sampled. In
addition, broad scale inventories utilizing the VSP protocol have been
conducted in other areas of the province. For example, in Eastern
Ontario about 1500 plots were sampled on both private and public lands;
in the northern Bruce Peninsula, about 600 plots were sampled by Parks
Canada and the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry;
and over 1000
plots on public and private lands have been sampled along The Trent
Severn Waterway. VSP
has also been used by the Parks
Canada in the Rouge Park (2015, 2016), City of Kitchener
and the City of Guelph (2016) for unique monitoring purposes. Please click
here for more information regarding other VSP
20. Who is paying for the
This research project is funded by the province of
a part of the Lake Simcoe Protection Plan.
21. Where can I get more
We value your input, please feel free to contact us with
questions, concerns, or comments about the project.
Note: the VSP E-Mail is checked daily during the summer months
(May-September) and checked periodically in other months leading up to