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Nature Reserves

Protecting, restoring and preserving vulnerable habitats across the province.

Sydenham River Nature Reserve © David Coulson


Our Nature Reserve Program has been protecting significant natural areas since 1961. With 25 nature reserves totaling 2,939 hectares (7,262 acres), our reserves protect some of the province’s best remaining examples of imperiled and vulnerable habitats.

With help from local stewards, Ontario Nature monitors each reserve in order to develop appropriate management plans and effectively manage each property.

Our goal is to continue building our province-wide nature reserve system that will:

  • Safeguard habitat for endangered plant and animal species
  • Protect biological diversity
  • Set benchmarks for scientific research
  • Create opportunities for recreation and nature appreciation
Malcolm Bluff Shores Nature Reserve © Robert McCaw

Click here for a full-size, interactive map.

Cawthra Mulock Nature Reserve © Camille Tremblay-Beaulieu

“Our nature reserves are for everyone to enjoy. If you visit one of our reserves you can help monitor the species that live thereby becoming a citizen scientist and submitting your reptile and amphibian sightings to our app!”

– Tanya Pulfer, Conservation Science Manager

Why It Matters

We are dedicated to protecting the most vulnerable habitats across the province. Some examples of these habitats are:

Heritage Woodlands: Since European settlement, roughly 80% of the province’s original woodland cover has been lost. Some of our nature reserves with heritage woodlands are Kinghurst Forest, Sydenham River and the Altberg Wildlife Sanctuary.

Great Lakes Shorelines: The shores of the Great Lakes, with their forests, dunes and wetlands, are globally unique. These areas are becoming more threatened due to development and climate change. Some of the best examples of Great Lakes shoreline in our nature reserve system include Petrel Point, Lyal Island, Baptist Harbour and Hay Marsh.

Alvars: Alvars are rare ecosystems of limestone or dolostone that are home to many distinctive plants and animals such as the lakeside daisy. Nature reserves where you can find alvar habitat include Bruce Alvar, Stone Road Alvar and Quarry Bay.

Malcolm Bluff Shores Nature Reserve © Robert McCaw

Visiting Our Nature Reserves

Our reserves are home to many rare and endangered species such as the blue racer snake, ramshead lady-slipper and the red-headed woodpecker. By protecting their habitats we are providing these species, and many others, with a safe haven for them to recover and prosper.

Our nature reserves are open to visitors. For more information about visiting the reserves, please read our Permitted Activities Policy.

Bruce Alvar © Noah Cole