In Ontario, approximately 10.6 million hectares (9.9% of the province as of 2010) are designated as protected. Environment and Climate Change Canada maintains 19 protected areas in Ontario, including 10 National Wildlife Areas (NWAs) and 9 Migratory Bird Sanctuaries (MBSs), comprising over 32 thousand hectares of the province's protected lands and waters.

Map of Environment and Climate Change Canada's Protected Areas in Ontario

Map of protected areas in Ontario (8) St. Joseph's Island MBS (2) Chantry Island MBS (3) Eleanor Island MBS (5) Mississippi Lake MBS (7) Rideau MBS (1) Beckett Creek MBS (9) Upper Canada MBS (8) St. Clair NWA (1) Big Creek NWA (3) Long Point NWA (5) Mohawk Island NWA (9) Wellers Bay NWA (7) Scotch Bonnet Island NWA (6) Prince Edward Point NWA (4) Mississippi Lake NWA (2) Eleanor Island NWA (10) Wye Marsh NWA (4) Hannah Bay MBS (6) Moose River MBS

Long description for the Map

Map showing the number of Environment and Climate Change Canada's protected areas in Ontario, a total of 19 divided among 10 National Wildlife Areas (NWAS) and 9 Migratory Bird Sanctuaries (MBSs).


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List of Protected Areas in Ontario

The tables below contain information about the NWAs and MBSs shown on the map above. In addition to the name, year of establishment, and size of each protected area, the tables indicate how these sites fit into national and international networks of conservation areas. The following entities may be noted:

Ramsar: Wetland of International Importance

Important Bird Area (IBA)

Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network (WHSRN)

Biosphere reserve of the The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Man and Biosphere Programme (MAB)

National Wildlife Areas

NWA NameYear establishedSize in hectares
Big Creek NWA1978766
Eleanor Island NWA19710.81
Long Point NWA19803,263
Mississippi Lake NWA1978307
Mohawk Island NWA19762
Prince Edward Point NWA1980518
Scotch Bonnet Island NWA19790.97
St. Clair NWA1978354
Wellers Bay NWA197883
Wye Marsh NWA197848

Migratory Bird Sanctuaries

MBS NameYear establishedSize in hectares
Beckett Creek MBS1969184
Chantry Island MBS195718
Eleanor Island MBS19710.81
Hannah Bay MBS1939252,228
Mississippi Lake MBS19593,008
Moose River MBS195826,908
Rideau MBS1957753
St. Joseph's Island MBS1951986
Upper Canada MBS19612,604

Access and Permitting

Although access to NWAs is not restricted, the primary purpose of these areas is to protect and conserve wildlife and their habitats, and therefore most NWAs are not equipped with facilities to accommodate public visitation. Unless otherwise posted, all recreational activities are prohibited within NWAs.

Although access to most MBSs is not restricted either, the primary intent of these sanctuaries is to protect migratory birds, and therefore hunting, as well as disturbing or molesting migratory birds, their eggs, nests or habitat, is prohibited.

A permit may be obtained from the Minister of the Environment authorizing the conduct of certain activities in an NWA or MBS, if the Minister or delegate is of the opinion that the proposed activity:

  • will not interfere with the conservation of wildlife; or
  • is consistent with the purpose for which the protected area was established; and
  • is consistent with the management plan for the protected area.

Contact Information

Additional information on entry, prohibited activities and permits in Environment and Climate Change Canada's protected areas is provided on the Management and Activities web pages of the National Wildlife Areas and Migratory Bird Sanctuaries. For more information on Environment and Climate Change Canada's protected areas in Ontario please contact the regional Environment and Climate Change Canada office: 

Environment and Climate Change Canada - Ontario Region
Canadian Wildlife Service
Protected Areas and Stewardship
4905 Dufferin Street
Toronto, ON
M3H 5T4
Toll Free: 1-800-668-6767 (in Canada only)
Email: ec.enviroinfo.ec@canada.ca

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