The following was originally submitted to Hon. Kathrn McGarry Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry, as well as via the Environmental Registry on October 4, 2017.
October 4, 2017
RE: EBR 013-1014 Criteria, methods, and mapping of the proposed regional Natural Heritage System for the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe
Dear Hon. Minister Kathryn McGarry;
Local food. Natural space. Water. Diverse ecosystems and wildlife.
These are only a few of the amazing things our natural heritage in the Greater Golden Horseshoe provides for our province. Effective natural heritage protection will enrich biodiversity and better prepare the region for the risks of climate change.
Biodiversity directly affects some of our most important economic sectors: forestry, food and farming.
I’m glad to see Ontario taking steps to protect our natural heritage that is critical to supporting ecosystems that include so much wildlife.
As you move to implement Natural Heritage Systems (NHS), I strongly encourage you to:
1. Make it possible to include smaller core natural areas. Many places in the GGH are already developed and may not meet the 100 hectare minimum requirement but may still have essential biodiversity features. These smaller areas could likely provide essential natural features to mitigate risks associated with climate change.
2. Seek opportunities for more local collaboration for local communities to identify more areas that should be included in the provincial Natural Heritage System mapping.
3. Ensure that this plan is not undermined. The pressures of development are significant and in the past deep-pocketed developers have received exemptions from provincial policies for various reasons. We must ensure that these Natural Heritage Systems are fully protected.
Now is the time to strengthen protections for the places we love, the natural heritage we celebrate, and the food and water resources that sustain us.