Our Nature Reserve Program has been proudly protecting some of the province’s best remaining examples of imperiled and vulnerable habitats since 1961.
Our province-wide nature reserve system safeguards habitat for endangered plants and animals, protects biological diversity, sets benchmarks for scientific research and is helping ensure that wild species and wild spaces are protected for generations to come.
Get to know our nature reserves! In this week’s blog, Ontario Nature staff share their personal stories about some of their favourite reserves to visit.
Willoughby Nature Reserve
This 118-acre property is tucked into the beautiful Caledon Hills. The animal and plant life found on the reserve is representative of the region and – for an area so close to Toronto – remarkably undisturbed. Much of the reserve is recognized as a significant natural area in the Niagara Escarpment Plan, which helps to protect the forest cover and natural landscape.
“Our Willoughby Nature Reserve is a hidden gem that I love going to with family and friends to enjoy the forest canopy, meandering creek, and cedar grove. It’s an amazing place to forest bath and reconnect with nature, within a short distance of the city. The forest transforms from season to season revealing different plants, flowers and animals. We need more spaces like this where natural species can find refuge.”
– Portia Mohlmann – Senior Development Officer
Lost Bay Nature Reserve
Named for the eastern arm of Gananoque Lake, the Lost Bay Nature Reserve is 416 acres in size. The reserve is home to 24 species at risk, including Blanding’s, eastern musk, northern map and snapping turtles, all of which are struggling to hold their ground elsewhere in the province. About three-quarters of the reserve is forested and the remainder consists predominantly of wetlands, which are provincially significant and home to important reptiles, birds and mammals.
“I have visited many of our properties, but Lost Bay has to be one of my favourites. Tucked away in the Frontenac Arch, it hosts a spectacular array of unique habitat types and wildlife. You can spot salamanders under logs, porcupine, deer and snakes on the bedrock outcrops. Down at the bay you can see turtles, frogs and herons at the waters edge. Ontario Nature has protected an immensely diverse, beautiful and important piece of land.”
– Ryan Wolfe, Conservation Technician
Malcolm Bluff Shores Nature Reserve
This 1,045-acre property is located on the Niagara Escarpment on the north shore of Colpoys Bay, an embayment of Georgian Bay, and includes four kilometres of undeveloped Great Lakes shingle beach shoreline as well as an unbroken expanse of forested land.
The Malcolm Bluff Shores property has an amazing physical diversity, with over 110 metres of elevation change from the beach to the highest point at the top of the escarpment. Six distinct geologic formations can be observed, as can wetlands, forests, talus slopes and vertical cliffs.
“The view from the towering cliffs of the escarpment at Malcolm Bluff Shores Nature Reserve is quite simply, stunning. You can walk for hours along the Bruce trail which intersects the property – one minute you’re immersed in dense forest and the next you’re gazing across the vast expanse of Georgian Bay. When I’m there I think about all the people who walked the trail before me, and those who will enjoy it after me. And of course, to the people who donated what they could to ensure that this place will be protected forever.”
– Kirsten Dahl, Director of Development
You can learn more about the rest of our nature reserves by visiting our Nature Reserves Program page. Have you visited one of our nature reserves? Tell us your story in the comments below.