Regional Criteria for Ecological Sensitivity

Some regions also have their own ecological sensitivity criteria in addition to the national ecological sensitivity criteria. Please note that if a province is not listed in this section, only the national ecological sensitivity criteria are applicable.


Regional Ecological Sensitivity Criteria - Ontario

A. Specific Categories of Qualified Lands

Lands, easements or covenants relative to such lands, which fall into one or more of the following categories shall be deemed to be ecologically sensitive lands in Ontario. This is provided terms of easements or covenants regard and protect the ecologically sensitive features of the land.

A1. Significant portions of the habitat of federally or provincially listed species at risk, including endangered or threatened species, or species of special concern;

A2. Areas designated as Provincially Significant Wetlands;

A3. Provincial or regional Areas of Natural and Scientific Interest;

A4. Designated Areas of Concern for biodiversity purposes as identified in Forest Management Plans;

A5. Lands that are registered under the Conservation Land Tax Incentive Program;

A6. Areas that are registered under the Managed Forest Tax Incentive Program that are managed for wildlife habitat conservation purposes under an approved Managed Forest Plan;

A7. Areas promoting the conservation of natural heritage and biodiversity that are identified within a regional or watershed plan or strategy developed by a recognized conservation organization;

A8. Areas designated as a World Heritage Site for biodiversity conservation purposes, a core area of a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, or a Wetland of International Importance under the Ramsar Convention;

A9. Areas of biodiversity significance identified in a Canadian Heritage Rivers Management Plan or Strategy;

A10. Areas designated in the Niagara Escarpment Plan as an Escarpment Protection Area or an Escarpment Natural Area;

A11. Areas designated as Natural Core, Natural Linkage, Sensitive Hydrological Feature, High Aquifer Vulnerability, Significant Landform, Minimum Areas of Influence or Minimum Vegetation Protection Zones within the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan;

A13. Areas designated for biodiversity conservation purposes within Management Plans or Strategies for the Trent-Severn or Rideau Waterways;

A14. Areas within a municipal official plan or zoning by-law under the Planning Act (Ontario) designated as an Environmentally Sensitive Area, Environmentally Significant Area, Environmental Protection Area, Restoration Area, Natural Heritage System or other designation for similar purposes that are compatible with the conservation of the biodiversity, ecological features and functions of the site;

A15. Areas within or adjacent to a Provincial Park, Provincial Park Reserve, Conservation Reserve, Conservation Area, Wilderness Area, Provincial Wildlife Area, National Wildlife Area, Migratory Bird Sanctuary, National Park, National Park Reserve or Ecological or Nature Reserve managed by a government or non-government agency;

A17. Areas identified as Carolinian Canada sites or Carolinian core natural areas and corridors as designated by the Big Picture, natural area mapping program;

A18. Areas designated as Core Natural Area, Natural Area Buffer, Natural Area Link, or Valued Ecosystem Component in the National Capital Greenbelt Master Plan by the National Capital Commission; and

A19. Areas designated for biodiversity purposes by regional agencies such as the Niagara Parks Commission, St. Clair Parkway Commission, St. Lawrence Parks Commission and the Waterfront Regeneration Trust.

B. General Criteria for Other Ecologically Sensitive Lands

Lands, easements or covenants relative to such lands, that meet one or more of the following general criteria may also be considered to be ecologically sensitive lands in Ontario -- subject to the approval of the federal Minister of the Environment or a person delegated by the Minister for this purpose (the term "significant" for the purposes below refers to definitions provided in Provincial Policy Statements): This is provided terms of easements or covenants regard and protect the ecologically sensitive features of the land.

B1. Significant habitats such as alvars, prairies, cliffs, Great Lakes coastal habitats, old growth forest areas, glacial relic communities and sites with enduring geological features that contribute to biodiversity;

B2. Areas of wildlife concentration such as bat caves, snake hibernacula, heronries, deer wintering yards and sites used by migratory water birds and other species for seasonal staging, feeding, breeding and like purposes;

B3. Areas identified, designated or protected as ecologically significant or ecologically important by a government or non-government local, provincial, national or international system or body;

B4. Significant water bodies, rivers, streams, shorelines, valleys, wetlands, groundwater recharge areas, headwaters and aquifers;

B5. Significant wildlife or fish habitats;

B6. Significant woodlands;

B7. Areas that have significant current or potential for enhanced ecological values through restoration, remediation, management or geographic proximity to other ecologically significant properties;

B8. Natural buffers and adjacent lands around areas identified under other ecologically sensitive lands categories or criteria that contribute to the conservation of biodiversity;

B9. Natural links or corridors between areas identified under other ecologically sensitive lands categories or criteria that contribute to the conservation of biodiversity;

B10. Areas used for long-term scientific study or baseline and benchmark monitoring of biodiversity; and

B11. Areas that contribute to Canada's environmental heritage through the maintenance of the genetic diversity of species, ecosystem health, or landscape biodiversity, and other natural spaces of significance to the environment in which they are located.

The categories and criteria listed above, for the purposes of implementation of provisions in the Income Tax Act for ecological gifts, have been agreed to by representatives of the Governments of Ontario and Canada. This list and criteria may be further elaborated and amended by agreement between Environment Canada and the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources.

Regional Ecological Sensitivity Criteria - Quebec

In Quebec, the criteria for ecological gifts are set by the Ministère du Développement durable, de l’Environnement et Lutte contre les changements climatiques . The ecological values Certificate of the property being donated is also issued through the Regional Offices of the Ministry (In French Only).

The relevant regional directorate of the Quebec Department of Sustainable Development, Environment and the fight against climate change determines the ecological value of the property on the basis of one or more of the following criteria:

  • The property includes A NATURAL AREA SERVING AS A BUFFERbetween a development zone and a site of ecological value (e.g. lake, marsh, pond, forest) or a natural area adjacent to an already protected site.
  • The property is a DEGRADED BUT UNCONTAMINATED NATURAL SITE that could be restored within a reasonable time period.
  • The property has NATURAL FEATURES THAT JUSTIFY A CONSERVATION INTEREST, NAMELY (non-exhaustive list):
    • biological features, i.e. related to life or living organisms (e.g. site serving as a reservoir for individuals of one or more species to compensate for habitat loss or fragmentation or to offset the effects of harvesting)
    • plant features, i.e. related to all plant species growing in a given region or location (e.g. rare species, forest stands, specific plant communities, alvars)
    • wildlife features, i.e. related to the animals in a given region or location (e.g. rare species, staging areas, wildlife corridors, wintering sites, feeding grounds)
    • ecological features, i.e. related to the environment in which living organisms exist and to the relationships between the organisms and the environment (e.g. peat bogs, wetlands, lakes, forests)
    • geological features, i.e. related to knowledge of the Earth and its surface, the history of its components, and changes in their arrangement (e.g. limestone outcrops, serpentine, alvars, dikes, meteor or volcanic craters, fossil beds, grottos, faults)
    • geomorphologic features, i.e. related to terrestrial landforms (e.g. drainage divides between major watersheds, eskers, moraine complexes, terminal moraines, dune complexes, old deltas, kames and kettles, marine terraces dating back to the last deglaciation)
    • landscape features, i.e. related to a part of an area that is naturally visible to an observer (e.g. cliffs, waterfalls, glacial valleys, unimpeded views of a landscape that is unique to or typical of a region)

From a broader perspective, the assessment may also consider geographic and social features:

  • contribution of the gift to the quality of life of the local or regional community
  • potential to use the gift for education, research, ecotourism (non-intensive), etc.
  • threats to the ecological integrity of the gift due to increased public access

Regional Ecological Sensitivity Criteria - New Brunswick

Ecologically sensitive lands in New Brunswick as stipulated in a Canada-New Brunswick Memorandum of Understanding effective August 22, 1996, include:

  1. Lands of High Species Diversity: Supports unusually high diversity of plant and/or animal communities.
  2. Lands of Rare or Endangered Habitats and/or Populations: Supports populations and habitats of rare, threatened, or endangered species; contains critical habitat of limited range, providing breeding, shelter, or feeding sites for wildlife; contains plant and/or animal associations and/or habitats which might be remnants of once-larger habitats which have virtually disappeared.
  3. Restorable Ecologically Significant Areas: Contains examples of modified or degraded ecosystems or sites capable of being restored to more natural conditions.
  4. Unique/Representative Ecosystems: Contains outstanding and/or representative ecosystems, features, flora, and fauna and/or unique plant/animal associations and/or habitats.

Regional Ecological Sensitivity Criteria - Prince Edward Island

Lands and waters that meet one or more of the following criteria, as stipulated in a Canada-Prince Edward Island Memorandum of Understanding effective July 19, 1999, shall be considered ecologically sensitive lands in Prince Edward Island:

  1. Areas identified or areas adjacent to areas identified under the International Biological Program, University of Prince Edward Island Natural Areas Survey, Ramsar Convention, UNESCO Programs, Significant Environmental Areas Program, Western Hemisphere Shorebird Ecological Reserves, Important Bird Areas, Prince Edward Island Museum and Heritage Foundation, Marine Protected Areas, archaeological sites (e.g. suitable for study of paleobotany) or other listings of areas of biological importance.
  2. Areas designated or qualifying for designation under the Prince Edward Island Natural Areas Protection Act, Heritage Places Protection Act, Planning Act, Recreation Development Act, Trails Act, Wildlife Conservation Act, Forest Management Act, or any other existing or future Act capable of designating conservation of natural resources.
  3. Areas wholly or partially within or adjacent to or suitable for a Provincial Park, Scenic Heritage Road, Provincial Forest, designated or candidate Natural Area, Conservation Zone, Wildlife Management Area, Migratory Bird Sanctuary, National Wildlife Area, National Park, or other Conservation Areas managed by a government or non-government agency(ies).
  4. Areas which could form a corridor or portions of a corridor between/among Provincial Parks, Urban Parks (excluding sports venues), Scenic Heritage Roads, Provincial Forests, designated or candidate Natural Areas, Conservation Zones, Wildlife Management Areas, Migratory Bird Sanctuaries, National Wildlife Areas, Marine Protected Areas, National Parks or other Conservation Areas managed by a government or non-government agency(ies).
  5. Areas wholly or partially adjacent to any nature, educational, or recreational trail in the Province.
  6. Appropriate habitat of a native species designated as internationally, nationally, or provincially at risk.
  7. Appropriate habitat for a native species determined to be locally uncommon.
  8. Areas promoting the conservation of natural heritage and biodiversity that are identified by a recognized conservation organization.
  9. Areas of significance identified in a Canadian Heritage Rivers Management Plan or Strategy.
  10. Areas of wildlife concentrations such as bat hibernacula, snake hibernacula, heronries, sites of unusual floral abundance or diversity, or sites important for migratory birds or other species for seasonal staging, feeding, breeding, or like purposes.
  11. Areas that have potential for enhanced ecological values through restoration, remediation, or management.
  12. Areas being used for, or with the potential to be used for, scientific study, baseline or benchmark monitoring, or biodiversity.
  13. Areas being used for, or with the potential to be used for, biological or natural-history education.
  14. Areas considered by a recognized conservation organization to be representative examples of Prince Edward Island's woodland, bog, salt marsh, sand dune, pond, river riparian zone, offshore island, or other wildlife habitat or landscapes.
  15. Areas that contribute to Canada's environmental heritage through the maintenance of the genetic diversity of species, ecosystem health or landscape biodiversity, and other natural spaces of significance to the environment in which they are located.
  16. Ecologically sensitive lands, subject to further definition by the Government of Prince Edward Island, may include, but are not exclusive to:
    • areas identified, designated, or protected by a local, provincial, territorial, national, or international system or body as ecologically significant or important;
    • natural spaces of significance to the environment in which they are located;
    • areas that have significant current, or potential for, enhanced ecological values as a result of their geographic proximity to other significant properties;
    • areas, whether urban or rural, that are zoned for conservation purposes such as "green space" but excluding those zoned for such exclusive land uses as agricultural production;
    • natural buffers around environmentally sensitive areas such as water bodies, beaches, streams, or wetlands; and
    • areas that contribute to the maintenance of biodiversity or Canada's environmental heritage.