The United Counties of Prescott and Russell (UCPR), as well as the United Counties of Stormont, Dundas, and Glengarry (SDG) have partnered with South Nation Conservation (SNC) to complete a Natural Heritage Systems (NHS) study in Eastern Ontario.
An NHS is a network of interconnected natural features such as forests, rivers, wetlands, and agricultural lands. These systems are made up of core natural areas and natural linkages that support wildlife movement and natural processes necessary to maintain biological diversity, natural functions, and ecosystems. Strong natural heritage systems protection is necessary to maintain and enhance long-term quality of life, environmental health, and economic prosperity in the region.
As a provincial requirement, both Counties identify NHS policies in their Official Plans to protect the ecological integrity of these areas. Through a unique partnership, the Conservation Authority is completing an updated study on behalf of both Counties to ensure these policies remain appropriate, effective, and implementable.
SNC has also been working with the Raisin Region Conservation Authority and 14 municipalities in both Counties, along with indigenous partners and other special interest groups to best redefine the NHS while finding a balance between indigenous ecosystems and the importance of agricultural and other land uses in the region.
The updated draft NHS maps are available for viewing on SNC’s website at www.nation.on.ca/nhs, as well as frequently asked questions, an interactive story map, and a link to download a free smartphone application where residents can report sightings of moose, fishers and other wildlife to help SNC identify local corridors and natural linkages.
SNC will also be live streaming public presentations on the new draft NHS maps via their YouTube channel (www.youtube.com/SouthNationCA) on the following dates:
• Tuesday, February 9, 2021 at 7:00 pm (SDG)
• Wednesday, February 10, 2021 at 7:00 pm (UCPR)
Area residents and stakeholders are invited to tune-in to learn more about the NHS maps and may pose questions via YouTube’s live chat feature. Those who wish to provide additional feedback may also complete an online feedback form or request a virtual meeting with SNC in February. Feedback received will assist in updating Official Plan policies for both Counties.
“We look forward to working with the Counties, our partners, and hearing from area residents on ways to best conserve these natural features and areas for future generations,” says Alison McDonald, SNC’s Approvals Lead.