Ontario’s system of protected areas includes a total of more than 630 provincial parks and conservation reserves, covering almost 10% of the province’s land base. The Ministry of Natural Resource is responsible for the planning, management, monitoring, and enforcement for these protected areas.
The first priority in the planning and management of these protected areas is the maintanence of ecological integrity, as required by the Provincial Parks and Conservation Reserves Act, 2006. Ecological integrity is a condition in which biotic and abiotic components of ecosystems and the composition and abundance of native species and biological communities are characteristic of their natural regions and rates of change and ecosystem processes are unimpeded. It also includes healthy and viable populations of native species, including species at risk, and the maintenance of the habitat on which the species depend; and, levels of air and water quality consistent with protection of biodiversity and recreational enjoyment.
Protected areas range from small areas intended mainly for recreation, such as Devil’s Glen Provincial Park covering just 61 hectares, to huge wilderness parks, such as Woodland Caribou Provincial Park encompassing more than 450,000 hectares. Within this protected area system, 95 operating parks have approximately 18,000 vehicle-accessible campsites and 7,000 interior campsites. According to MNR, Ontario’s parks host more than 10 million visits each year and generate an economic impact of approximately $380 million a year. At the same time, these protected areas are meant to conserve habitat for many of Ontario’s 2,900 species of vascular plants, 160 species of fish, 80 species of amphibians and reptiles, 400 species of birds and 85 species of mammals.
In June 2009, the Ontario government introduced the Far North Act for First Reading in the Ontario legislature. It passed Third Reading in September 2010, was given Royal Assent a month later, and proclaimed in February 2011. It created a third class of protected areas in Ontario beyond provincial parks and conservation reserves; this law can be used to designate and regulate "protected areas" in northern Ontario. One of its purposes is: "The protection of areas of cultural value in the Far North and the protection of ecological systems in the Far North by including at least 225,000 square kilometres of the Far North in an interconnected network of protected areas designated in community based land use plans."
The Government of Ontario also an obligation to expand its protected areas system as part of Canada's commitment to conserve biodiversity. Canada, as a signatory of the Convention on Biological Diversity, has committed to expand the coverage of its terrestrial protected areas system to 17% land cover by 2020. In our province, the Government of Ontario is chiefly responsible for meeting this goal as the vast majority of lands are under provincial control. The ECO reported on this obligation in a Special Report in 2012.
Protected Areas System
Creating Protected Areas
This category has the following 5 subcategories, out of 5 total.
- [+] Algonquin Provincial Park (1)
- [+] Far North Act (1)
- [+] Ministry of Natural Resources (6)
- [+] Provincial Parks Act (1)
Pages in category "Protected Areas"
The following 31 pages are in this category, out of 31 total.