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Natural Heritage Strategy

A plan to preserve and protect our natural areas

Natural Heritage Strategy Brochure [PDF]

The Town of Richmond Hill is blessed with a unique natural heritage which includes kettle lakes, headwaters and tributaries of the Don, Rouge and Humber River systems, significant wetland complexes, forest communities, and a portion of the Oak Ridges Moraine.

Given the diversity and importance of natural features in Richmond Hill it is not surprising that environmental preservation is a high priority in the Town. In a recent survey, Town Residents ranked "Natural Area Protection" as one of the most important issue that we face, and indicated that conserving natural environment areas, such as woodlots, wetlands and valleylands, is the most important function of parks and open spaces. In this regard, "preserving and protecting our unique natural features" has been incorporated into Corporate Strategic Plan as a key goal.

Acknowledging the importance of natural features, and following the direction of Strategic Plans, the Town is preparing a Natural Heritage Strategy. This strategy is a proactive environmental plan, which will include an inventory of natural areas, describe site-specific projects to protect and enhance the natural heritage system, identify operations and maintenance requirements for environmental lands, recommend environmental education, partnership and stewardship initiatives and prioritize any future acquisitions needed to support protection efforts.

Master Environmental Servicing Plans (MESPs) enabled the Town to acquire ownership of environmental lands during the development process; the ongoing need for upkeep and protection of these lands has always been recognized. The Natural Heritage Strategy is the next logical step towards responsible management of the Town's large and diverse inventory of natural features -- it will determine the best ways for the Town to use funds earmarked for improvements to valleyland and trail systems, as well as direct partnership and volunteer initiatives that will support objectives of the Parks and Recreation Strategic Master Plan.

The Town's Natural Heritage Strategy builds upon existing data sources and is consistent with federal, provincial and regional government policies as well as local watershed strategies. The Strategy is being developed through a close partnership with the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA). This partnership facilitate data exchange and will avoid duplication between the TRCA's Terrestrial Heritage Approach and our Natural Heritage Strategy.

Natural Heritage Strategy Components:
Natural Heritage Strategies are being created in phases for all environmental and open space lands under the Town's management responsibility. Strategies will focus on:

  • Environmental Inventory - A summary of the ecological information required to make informed decisions about the management of natural spaces. Information compiled about flora and fauna species will be of interest to residents, schools and community groups.
  • Capital Projects Strategy - A work program to protect and rehabilitate natural features as well as improve passive recreational opportunities through the installation of trails and signs. Any acquisition priorities, which are necessary to ensure protection of natural heritage systems, will be identified.
  • Operations & Maintenance - A fiscally responsible plan defining the routine, ongoing operating and maintenance activities needed to ensure clean, safe and preserved natural areas.
  • Community Involvement & Awareness Strategy - A strategy for increasing environmental education opportunities, natural area stewardship programs and community involvement activities.
  • Monitoring - A description of the monitoring activities which will be undertaken to evaluate the effectiveness of Natural Heritage Strategies and to provide updates to the strategies as needed.

    Important Definitions:

    Natural Heritage System - all of the components of the natural environment within a given area, and the interactions and dependencies that exist between and among these components
    Flora - the plant life characteristic of a region, period or special environment
    Fauna - the animal life characteristic of a region, period or special environment
    Stewardship Programs - initiatives which encourage residents to protect, restore , or care for land in an ecologically sound way

    Next Steps...
  • Continue work on area-specific Natural Heritage Strategies
  • Public presentation of the Natural Heritage Strategies, and solicitation of partnerships and community interest

    For more information about the Town of Richmond Hill Natural Heritage Strategy, contact
    Ann Marie Farrugia, Natural Heritage Coordinator at (905) 771-5509 or via e-mail at naturalenvironment@richmondhill.ca.
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