Legal Protection

Many of Toronto’s special natural areas are identified as Environmentally Significant Areas (ESAs) in Toronto’s Official Plan. Some are also designated as provincially significant Areas of Natural and Scientific Interest (ANSIs) or Provincially Significant Wetlands (PSWs). These areas have been given special protected status to preserve their environmentally significant qualities:

  • ESAs are protected by the Official Plan and zoning and by the Ravine and Natural Feature Protection By-law; other City bylaws set rules for responsible use of parks, trails and ravines
  • ANSIs and PSWs are protected under the Provincial Policy Statement and Natural Heritage Reference Manual guideline
  • Wildlife are also protected by legislation such as the Migratory Birds Convention Act and Species at Risk Act (Canada), and the Fish and Wildlife Protection Act and Endangered Species Act (Ontario)

To be truly effective, this framework of legal protection needs to be supported by careful planning and management, public education and meaningful enforcement.

See also: Laws, Plans & Strategies