Unique Habitats and Species

The Northumberland County Forest is located on the Oak Ridges Moraine and designated as Natural Core Area in the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan.

The County Forest is a mosaic of:

  • Red pine, white pine, European larch, scotch pine, jack pine and white spruce plantations
  • Natural, mixed forest stands
  • Black Oak Savannah/Woodland – a globally rare ecosystem
    • Sand barrens which can be remnants of past agricultural practices, damage from recreation or naturally occurring, rare ecosystems
  • Wetlands including a natural beaver pond along a cold-water stream and human-created ponds

Wildlife commonly seen in the forest include white-tailed deer, coyotes, eastern chipmunks, red squirrels, and porcupines. Less commonly, one might catch a glimpse of a fisher or black bear.

A large number of birds call the Northumberland County Forest home. Throughout the summer, the forest fills with the songs of eastern wood-pewee, hermit thrush, ovenbird, red-breasted nuthatch, red-eyed vireo, rose-breasted grosbeak, scarlet tanager and yellow-rumped warbler. Overhead, you will also hear ravens, red-shouldered hawks and broad-winged hawks and in the evening, you might find common nighthawks and whip-poor-wills.

The County Forest's conifer plantations are also home to locally uncommon species such as Nashville warbler, magnolia warbler and golden-crowned kinglet as well as red and white-winged crossbill when there are cone crops.


About two-thirds of the forest is made up of pine trees planted within the past 100 years. The remainder has been harvested at some point in time but is a naturally regenerated, usually mixed deciduous, forest.

Trees in the forest include:

  • black cherry
  • black oak
  • white oak
  • red oak
  • white pine
  • red pine
  • jack pine
  • sugar maple
  • red maple
  • eastern white cedar
  • eastern hemlock
  • poplar species
  • white birch
  • yellow birch

There are also almost 300 native plants in the forest. Significant and important plant species include:

  • Canada bluegrass
  • sand dropseed
  • wormwood
  • big blue stem
  • Indian grass
  • New Jersey tea
  • wild bergamot
  • butterfly milkweed
  • trilliums
  • sharp leaved goldenrod
  • panic grass
  • prairie buttercup
  • yellow flax
  • cylindrical blazing star
 Black Oak Savannah

The forest is also home to remnant Black Oak Savannahs. Black Oak Savannah is a very rare habitat in Ontario. Prior to European settlement, there was about 80,000 hectares of prairie and savannah in Southern Ontario. Today, less than two percent of this landscape remains. We are working hard to protect, restore and maintain Black Oak Savannah in the Northumberland County Forest.

Woodland is part of an area dominated by oak trees with between 35 and 65 percent canopy cover. Like oak savannahs, woodlands have disappeared across their former North American range. It is the dominant oak community within the County Forest. Due to lack of prescribed burns, many of the woodland communities in the County have dense canopies and are now oak forests. Some of the plant species and the wildlife that depend on these species have disappeared because of the need for open grown oaks. We are working to restore these areas through managementinvasive species removal and prescribed burns.