Ontario Nature is pleased to announce that five municipalities and two conservation authorities in southern Ontario have had lands recognized as contributing to Canada’s target of protecting 25 percent of our lands and waters by 2025 and 30 percent by 2030. Following a thorough assessment, conducted in partnership with Ontario Nature and the Ontario Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks, 2,132 hectares were determined to meet the national standard for Protected and Conserved Areas (also known as Other Effective Area-based Conservation Measures, or OECMs).
To achieve the designation, protected and conserved areas must meet these criteria:
Effective means to control all activities likely to negatively impact biodiversity
Long-term and year-round protection
Managed in ways that deliver conservation outcomes
Nature conservation involves many players. In southern Ontario, municipal governments and conservation authorities play a vital role in conserving natural areas and greenspace alongside built environments in heavily populated areas. They juggle multiple, often competing objectives as they plan for growth, service parks and recreational facilities, and maintain and monitor natural areas.
The following municipalities and conservation authorities are to be congratulated for their strong management policies and practices that contribute to biodiversity conservation in and near our towns and cities:
City of Kitchener
City of Toronto
County of Lambton
St. Clair Region Conservation Authority
Toronto and Region Conservation Authority
Town of Ajax
These protected and conserved areas come in various forms: some are larger parks in the middle of cities, or floodplains and valley lands surrounding urban rivers and streams. In other cases, they are remaining Carolinian forest patches, or rare ecosystems thriving among the Oak Ridges Moraine.
Strong policies permanently protect sites from development, require careful management of recreational impacts, and ensure changes to wildlife habitat and species are monitored over time. These near-urban areas are vital for wildlife and people, enhancing climate resilience, conserving biodiversity and providing much-needed access to nature.
Assessment work is ongoing. Ontario Nature, in partnership with Conservation Ontario, and with the support of the Greenbelt Foundation, is supporting more assessments this upcoming year. It is to be hoped that more municipalities and conservation authorities engage in the process of screening their properties to determine whether they count towards Canada’s target and database. Those that do deserve our thanks and recognition. For others, there is still an opportunity for them to follow the examples set by those honoured above.
Jackie started with Ontario Nature in 2012 as a member of the Youth Council and rejoined in 2020 in her current role as Protected Places Coordinator. She graduated in 2019 with a B.A. in integrative biology from Harvard College. Growing up in Toronto, Jackie’s love for nature grew from frequent visits to the zoo and family road trips around Southern Ontario. Her hobbies include skating, baking and exploring trails.