Natural Heritage Study
In 2004, Loyalist Township, the City of Kingston and the Cataraqui Region Conservation Authority joined forces to start work on the Central Cataraqui Region Natural Heritage Study. The goal was to identify a system of natural features and areas, including wetlands, woodlands and significant wildlife areas. The study area included all urban and rural lands located within the municipal boundaries of the two municipalities. The findings have been used to update official plan policies for the City and Loyalist Township.
Natural Heritage Study:
The Natural Heritage Study was intended to
- Identify a 'broad-brush' system of features and areas that supports biodiversity within the City of Kingston and Loyalist Township.
- Recommend ways in which each of the municipalities, in consultation and partnership with the community, might develop a strategy to protect and enhance the habitats and biological diversity of the natural heritage system.
The Natural Heritage Study is a good news story. Unlike many areas of southern Ontario, there are extensive, relatively healthy natural communities still intact in this geographic area. This is good for the local community because it not only provides a healthy environment in which to live and helps protect precious water resources, but also is an attraction for tourism and related economic benefits. An array of natural heritage features allows for recreational activities such as hiking and walking. Natural stream corridors and hedgerows link the larger landscape features (wetlands, ravines, forests, and grasslands) to form a connected web of landforms and habitats that are home to a diverse wildlife community.
The Provincial Policy Statement (PPS) outlines the Province's interests in land use and development. These policies must be reflected in local planning documents, such as the Official Plan and Zoning Bylaw. The PPS requires planning authorities to protect significant natural heritage features and areas by restricting development and site alteration, and by demonstrating that the features and ecological function of the areas will not be harmed. This is normally done through the preparation of an environmental impact assessment by a qualified individual.
Examples of natural features and areas include: wetlands, fish habitat, woodlands, valleylands, habitat of endangered species and threatened species, and areas of natural and scientific interest. The study recommendations are an important component of the new Official Plan for the City.
What was the process to map the natural areas?
The first step was to gather and map existing information about natural heritage features and areas. A set of criteria was developed, and applied to the data collected, to assess the significance of the features and areas. The study involved extensive analysis of air photo imagery.
Recommendations were developed for land use planning and stewardship activities to maintain and enhance the Central Cataraqui Region natural heritage system. Public consultation sessions were held to discuss the draft policy and the mapping for the study. This project will help both municipalities to make informed decisions on development proposals in or adjacent to natural heritage features in their jurisdictions.
Also, the project is not just about land use planning. Stewardship, education, and restoration of impaired habitats are also important components.
In 2006, City Council accepted the report in fulfilment of the Terms of Reference, and in 2008, Council further endorsed the study recommendations for incorporation in the new Official Plan.
Obtain the study
The Natural Heritage Study can be obtained on the Cataraqui Region Conservation Authority website or by contacting them:
Cataraqui Region Conservation Authority
1641 Perth Road, P.O. Box 160
Glenburnie, ON K0H 1S0