In Ontario, approximately 10.6 million hectares (9.9% of the province as of 2010) are designated as protected. Environment 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 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 Canada’s protected areas in Ontario, a total of 19 divided among 10 National Wildlife Areas (NWAS) and 9 Migratory Bird Sanctuaries (MBSs).

National Wildlife Areas
Réserves nationales de faune (10)

Migratory Bird Sanctuaries
Refuge d'oiseaux migrateurs (9)

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
IBA: Important Bird Area
WHSRN: Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network
MAB: Biosphere reserve of the UNESCO Man and Biosphere Programme

This table provides information on the national wildlife areas such as the name of the area, the year it was established, the size in hectares and notes.

National Wildlife Areas
No.NameYear establishedSize in hectaresNotes
1Big Creek NWA1978776-
2Eleanor Island NWA19710.78
  • also Eleanor Island MBS
3Long Point NWA19803,465
4Mississippi Lake NWA1978277
  • overlaps with Mississippi Lake MBS
5Mohawk Island NWA19762-
6Prince Edward Point NWA1980523
7Scotch Bonnet Island NWA19790.84-
8St. Clair NWA1978358
9Wellers Bay NWA197874-
10Wye Marsh NWA197848

This table provides information on migratory bird sanctuaries such as the name of sanctuary, the year it was established, the size in hectares and notes.

Migratory Bird Sanctuaries
No.NameYear establishedSize in hectaresNotes
1Beckett Creek MBS1969179-
2Chantry Island MBS195764
3Eleanor Island MBS19710.78
  • also Eleanor Island NWA
4Hannah Bay MBS193919,119
5Mississippi Lake MBS1959300
  • overlaps with Mississippi Lake NWA
6Moose River MBS19582,690
7Rideau MBS1957754-
8St. Joseph's Island MBS1951891-
9Upper Canada MBS19612,572-

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 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 Canada's protected areas in Ontario please contact the regional Environment Canada office: 

Environment 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: enviroinfo@ec.gc.ca

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