Environmentally Significant Areas (ESAs) are natural spaces that require special protection to preserve their environmentally significant attributes. There are 21 areas in London designated as ESA’s. These areas occur within agricultural and urban settings and contain wetlands, forests, meadows, river corridors and wildlife habitats. They support a surprising range of plant and animal life, providing a first-hand opportunity to see the areas ecological gems, appreciate nature and experience the serenity of the wilderness.
The Upper Thames River Conservation Authority
The Coves are an interesting series of three oxbow ponds that were formed when a wide meander of the Thames River was cut off. The watershed is an area of high species diversity and contains two provincially rare forest types: a black walnut forest and a hackberry forest. The Coves are a 5 minute drive or a 10 minute bike ride southwest from downtown London. Located south of the Thames River and Greenway Park stretching through Arthur Ford Park and Highland Woods.
Off the beaten track, Kains Woods skirts “the thumb” of Byron and is an integral Thames River corridor supporting birds and wildlife. The 5.8 km-long trail, which is comprised of varied topography and sustains numerous microhabitats, can be challenging in parts. The trails are marked with both yellow and white blazes on trees. It is possible to spot pileated woodpeckers, scarlet tanagers and bald eagles. Located in West London near Kains Road north of Oxford Street West.
Kilally Meadows comprises a number of habitats including woods, meadow and swamp and features a 7.7 km loop trail. Popular with birders, hikers and naturalists, the network of paths often follow the Thames River or Meander Creek. Springtime summons a variety of woodland wildflowers including dame’s rocket, marsh marigold, and the yellow violet and white trout lily. Located between Adelaide Street and Highbury Avenue along the North Thames River and Meander Creek. Fishing is permitted with a provincial fishing licence.
Kilally Meadows - Trails Open London / London Heritage Council
Meadowlily Woods and its Nature Preserve are perfect for passive recreational activities such as walking, hiking and birding. If you have never explored the trails you have missed out on one the city’s ecological gems. A natural corridor for animals to get to the river, the area features 18 mammal species and provides a range of attractive habitats for amphibians, butterflies and insects. Located in East London near Commissioners and Meadowlily Roads and east of Highbury Avenue. Fishing is permitted with a provincial fishing licence.
Medway Valley Heritage Forest’s terrain is rolling with steep climbs and includes floodplain forests, swamps, marshes and wooded valley slopes. The 10.6 km of trails follow both sides of Medway Creek which winds through the area. Dusk or dawn is the perfect time to spot to a white-tailed deer feeding on the tender shoots and tips of shrubs and trees. You may see grosbeaks, hummingbirds, waxwings and indigo buntings while on your hike. The main access points are at the Elsie Perrin Williams Estate and at the Museum of Ontario Archaeology. Located in North London, roughly between Windermere, Fanshawe Park and Wonderland Roads. Fishing is permitted with a provincial fishing licence.
Medway Valley Heritage Forest
The floating acid peat bog and plant life is the centerpiece of this 41.6 hectare Sifton Bog. Boreal swamp and Carolinian forest encircle the bog, providing a marked contrast and diversity of vegetation. A 370-metre long boardwalk leads from the parking lot at Oxford Street to a viewing platform in the centre of the bog. If you’re lucky you’ll spot a Midland painted turtle with its distinctive red or orange markings on its shell. There are a variety of trails, totaling 2.7 km. Located on the south side of Oxford Street, west of Hyde Park Road.
Rolling Hills and steep ravines create scenic areas for hiking, bird watching and an ideal backdrop for nature appreciation in Warbler Woods. The area is named after the uncommon Golden-winged Warbler a small gray songbird with white undersides and distinctive yellow wing patches and forehead. There are 3.9 km of trails. The main trail is 1.8 km and extends the length of the site with many points of access. Located in West London between Commissioners Road and Byron Baseline Road.
Westminster Ponds/Pond Mills comprise five large kettle ponds and a beaver pond surrounded by lowland and upland habitats. Approximately 60% of all plant species indigenous to Middlesex County can be found here. There are 10 km of mostly gently rolling trails with the occasional steep hill. Boardwalks span some lowland areas. The ponds and the diversity of habitats make this an optimal place to view herons, ducks and over 200 recorded species of birds. Located south of Commissioners Road and east of Wellington Road, adjacent to the Tourism Information Centre, and extends to Pond Mills Road. Fishing is permitted with a provincial fishing licence.
Westminster Ponds/Pond Mills
For More Information on London’s Environmentally Significant Areas contact the Upper Thames River Conservation Authority:
www.thamesriver.on.ca • 519-451-2800 x 281
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