The Rouge Park is located within the mixed woodland plains ecozone of Canada. However, portions of the lower Rouge valley protect a small but important part of one of the richest and most endangered ecosystems in Canada, the Carolinian Life Zone.
With climate change, Carolinian forest species have an opportunity to expand north. Outlying Carolinian areas, like the Rouge Park, contain individuals and species with genetic traits that may help our forests adapt to climate change.
The diverse topographies, soils, moisture conditions and micro-climates of the Rouge Park allow diverse communities of plant and animal life to flourish in a relatively small area.
Many plant and animal species from further south reach their northern limits on warm south facing Rouge Valley slopes. Such slopes have a longer frost-free period due to enhanced capture of sunlight and the moderating influence of nearby Lake Ontario.
On cooler north-facing slopes and tablelands away from the lake, and at higher elevations near the Oak Ridges Moraine, more northerly species from the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Forest Zone dominate and some species from the Boreal Forest Zone can be found.
Rouge Valley areas within a few kilometres of Lake Ontario enjoy more than 175 frost free days, similar to Ontario's warmest climate area, Pelee Island. However, some Rouge headwater areas in the Oak Ridges Moraine have only 115 frost-free days.
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