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Nature Reserves

Protecting, restoring and preserving vulnerable habitats.

Each of our 26 nature reserves are included in the Canadian Protected and Conserved Areas Database, counting towards the 10.7% of Ontario that is protected.

Sydenham River Nature Reserve © David Coulson


Our Nature Reserve Program has been protecting significant natural areas since 1961. With 26 nature reserves totaling 3,119 hectares (7,692 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 plants and animals.
  • Protect biological diversity.
  • Set benchmarks for scientific research.
  • Create opportunities for recreation and nature appreciation.
Malcolm Bluff Shores Nature Reserve © Robert McCaw

Click for a full-size interactive map.

Baptist Harbour Nature Reserve © Smera Sukumar

Learn More About Our Nature Reserves

With your support we are able to restore, expand and revitalize our nature reserve system.

Why It Matters

Protected places provide safe havens for wildlife, increase our resilience to climate change, can sustain and strengthen Indigenous knowledge and value systems and much more. In 2010, Canada endorsed the United Nations target to protect at least 17 percent of the planet’s land and inland waters by 2020. We currently protect less than 11 percent. Sign the declaration to show you care.

We are dedicated to protecting the most vulnerable habitats across the province, including:

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 Altberg Wildlife Sanctuary.

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

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

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.

Southern Ontario, like our nature reserves, is experiencing an increase in black-legged ticks and with it an elevated risk of contracting Lyme disease. Please stay on trails to reduce your risk. For more information about ticks and Lyme disease read our blog post and magazine article.

Birdwatching at Cawthra Mulock Nature Reserve © Noah Cole