Protecting natural spaces in southern Ontario
On August 3, 2005, the provincial government announced the Natural Spaces Program. This new program included a $6-million allocation to the Ontario Heritage Trust for the acquisition and stewardship of provincially significant natural heritage lands. The announcement was jointly made by the Premier and the Ministers of Natural Resources and Culture.
The Natural Spaces Program, led by the OntarioMinistry of Natural Resources (MNR), will reduce the loss of natural areas or "greenspace" in southern Ontario. Public and private conservation organizations and landowners are being encouraged to work together to protect existing natural areas and to restore degraded natural areas.
The Ontario Heritage Trust's Natural Spaces Land Acquisition and Stewardship Program is key to the protection and restoration of natural heritage lands in southern Ontario. This program has two components:
- the conservation and protection of provincially significant natural heritage systems through the acquisition of lands and the use of conservation easements
- the wise stewardship of these newly acquired lands
The natural heritage lands acquired in partnership with conservation organizations will be maintained as provincial assets, held by the Trust in perpetuity on behalf of the people of Ontario. Stewardship funds for these newly acquired properties provide support to partner organizations to plan and accommodate appropriate public access, as well as encourage public appreciation of natural heritage and ensure stewardship that conserves and enhances natural biodiversity.
The Trust has extensive and proven experience in working with partners to acquire, protect and preserve natural heritage lands. Some 94 per cent of the natural heritage lands held by the Trust are managed in partnership with local and regional organizations such as conservation authorities, land trusts, municipalities and trail organizations.
Conservation organizations with mandates to protect provincially significant natural heritage lands are encouraged to consider the Natural Spaces Land Acquisition and Stewardship Program.