What is Natural Heritage?
Natural heritage features are the forests, streams, wetlands and regenerating fields (and their interconnections) that support key ecological processes within our watershed.
What is the Natural Heritage Program?
The Natural Heritage Program provides technical review of planning applications and works with partner municipalities to develop natural heritage strategies for inclusion in their Official Plans. This program also supports other Authority initiatives such as Watershed Plan updates and Conservation Area management plans.
How do we provide technical review of planning applications?
Monitoring staff work with the Authority's Planning staff, municipalities and the Ministry of Natural Resources to review planning applications to ensure that they are consistent with provincial, county and municipal natural heritage policies, and that significant natural heritage areas are protected from inappropriate development.
How do we develop municipal natural heritage strategies?
Staff work with interested municipal partners to develop a 'Terms of Reference' for a municipal natural heritage strategy. Typically, this involves mapping of natural heritage features using a provincial standard protocol and then evaluating the significance of these features using a GIS-based model that measures the terrestrial, aquatic and groundwater attributes associated with these features (consistent with provincial policy). Staff then work with the municipality to prepare Official Plan natural heritage schedules and policies that are consistent with provincial natural heritage policy.
What other NVCA programs are supported by the Natural Heritage Program?
The Authority is currently updating its Watershed Management Plan. Part of this update will include identification of natural heritage system targets including an overall natural heritage strategy that identifies key natural heritage features and their interconnections within the watershed.
Program staff assist the Land and Water Stewardship Services department in the development of Conservation Area Management Plans. We are responsible for detailed ecological surveys of Conservation Areas and provide recommendations for natural area management.
In 2005, natural heritage program staff completed wetland approximation mapping for the entire watershed in support of the Generic Regulation. Wetland delineation was based on orthophoto, slope and soils assessment as well as inclusion of previously collected data and field checks.
Results to date
Municipal natural heritage strategies have been developed in partnership with the Town of New Tecumseth, Township of Essa and Town of Wasaga Beach
Program staff have contributed to the Tiffin Centre for Conservation and Nottawasaga Bluffs Conservation Area Management Plans as well as the ongoing Minesing Wetlands Biophysical Inventory study.
- Wetland approximation mapping has been completed for the watershed