A Natural Heritage System for the Greater Golden Horseshoe (which includes the County of Peterborough) has been mapped by the Province. This mapping can be accessed in more detail from our public GIS site by expanding the Natural Resource Areas layer group and selecting the 'Prov Natural Heritage System' layer.

The Provincial Natural Heritage System (NHS) is intended to support a comprehensive, integrated, and long-term approach to planning for the protection of the region’s natural heritage and biodiversity. This mapping does not apply until it is implemented through the County Official Plan, and there is an opportunity to refine the mapping at this time. Municipalities are required by the Growth Plan to incorporate the NHS as an overlay in their Official Plans.

How it was Mapped

In preparing the Natural Heritage System for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, the Province divided the Golden Horseshoe into three separate geographic areas, and then further defined core areas for inclusion in the NHS for each of those geographic areas. In the County of Peterborough, core areas have a minimum size of 500 hectares. Linkages were then identified between core areas, and additional natural heritage features were also added. A full Summary of Criteria and Methods for the Regional Natural Heritage System for the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe is available should you wish to learn more.

Refining the Natural Heritage System

Refinements to the Provincial mapping are an upper-tier (County) responsibility under the Growth Plan. The process for refining the NHS is outlined in the Summary of Criteria and Methods and must be consistent with the policies of the Growth Plan. Refinements may include minor technical adjustments, addition of natural features and a 30-metre vegetation protection zone, removal of small pockets of impervious development, or removal of isolated pockets of the NHS that protrude into settlement areas.

Approach Taken for Draft Official Planclick to view draft NHS Mapping

The County has released a draft Natural Heritage Systems map for the proposed County Official Plan. Although the preference of staff and the Technical Advisory Committee had been to use the Kawarthas, Naturally Connected (KNC) mapping, consultations with the Province indicated that there was insufficient coverage to capture areas of provincial interest. Instead, the County has moved forward with a proposed draft refinement that utilizes the Provincial NHS mapping with strategic areas removed. These strategic areas were identified by local Municipalities and represent areas where development is concentrated or is expected to take place to the horizon of the Plan, or in some cases where competing areas provincial interest exist such as active aggregate operations. This mapping is an overlay that works together with the underlying land use designations. Policies associated with the Natural Heritage System are already found in Section 6 of the draft County Official Plan and directly reflect and conform to the Provincial Growth Plan.

Effect of a Natural Heritage System

 A Natural Heritage System is intended to help conserve biodiversity including species, ecosystems and ecological functions, and can enhance the resilience of ecosystems to threats such as habitat loss and climate change. Once implemented in the Official Plan, lands within the NHS will be subject to additional policies and study criteria as outlined in the Provincial Growth Plan. Depending on the type of application being made, and the type of natural feature(s) on a property it could mean that an Environmental Impact Study will be required, have additional criteria that need to be met, or development may not be possible within a certain distance of a feature compared to a property that is not within the NHS

Report to Council

In April 2021, a focus report titled Focus on Natural Heritage was provided to County Council that outlined the current Provincial policy context, key considerations to be had and what to expect going forward.