Natural Environment Technical Reports

The purposes of the Natural Environment report are to determine the presence of significant natural heritage features/areas and fish habitat in accordance with the Provincial Policy Statement 2005 (PPS) and to ensure that any necessary preventative, mitigative and remedial measures are undertaken for their protection.

All Natural Environment reports must be prepared by a person with appropriate training and/or experience in the identification of fish habitat and significant natural heritage features/areas. Each report must include the qualifications and experience of the individual(s) that have prepared the report and be signed by the author.

A Natural Environment Level 1 report determines whether one or more of the following features exist on-site or within 120 meters of the site:

  • significant wetlands (including significant coastal wetlands);
  • significant habitat of endangered and threatened species;
  • significant Areas of Natural and Scientific Interest (ANSIs);
  • significant woodlands (south and east of the Canadian Shield);
  • significant valleylands (south and east of the Canadian Shield);
  • significant wildlife habitat; and
  • fish habitat.

The person preparing the report is responsible for ensuring that consultation occurs with appropriate MNRF and planning authority staff. As a pre-consultation service, MNRF staff should provide any available background information (e.g. locations(s) of wetlands, ANSIs, threatened and endangered species habitat and fish habitat) to those qualified individuals preparing the report. This information may be obtained from district files, the Natural Resources Values Inventory System (NRVIS) and the Natural Heritage Information Centre (NHIC).

The qualified individual must determine whether any of the above features exist during a site inspection/visit(s). Where there is a known presence of a feature based on existing information, or the site lies within the geographic range of a feature (e.g. endangered or threatened species)and the habitat is appropriate, the inspection must be carried out at a time when the features would be expected to be visible, using good field observation and investigation practices. It is important to recognize that while some significant resources may already be identified and inventoried by official sources, the significance of others can only be determined after evaluation by the proponent/applicant.

The Level 1 report must clearly conclude whether each of the features (a-g above) exists on or within 120 m of the site. The report also must provide sufficient information on the methodology and findings to substantiate the conclusions.

If any of these features are identified, then an impact assessment (i.e. Natural Environment Level 2 report) is required to determine any negative impacts on the natural features or ecological functions, and any proposed preventative, mitigative or remedial measures. The Level 2 report essentially follows the format of an EIA study and report.

Environmental Impact Studies

Environmental Impact Studies may include detailed assessments of wetlands, woodlands, wildlife habitat and species of concern such as Species At Risk. Depending on the unique characteristics of the lands involved in the proposed project (ie: Environmental sensitivity) the scope and requirements of the studies will be defined by working with environmental planners from the municipality or the relevant Conservation Authority prior to any work being undertaken.

There is also coordination with other assessment processes: Planning Act, Ontario Water Resources Act, Conservation Authorities Act, Federal Fisheries Act, Endangered Species Act, Species At Risk Act, Migratory Birds Convention Act, Provincial Policy Statement, etc.

If there are few anticipated constraints for a simple project then scoping may be very limited and straight forward. For larger and more complex project or in instances of site sensitivity or sensitive adjacent lands the EIS may be more comprehensive.

Study Components

NOTE: any of the following EIS components may stand alone for any other planning requirements of different projects such as Tree Inventories.

Background Information

Secondary Background – includes prior reports, municipal files
Government Resources – OMNRF files, NHIC element occurrence, Land Information Ontario GIS information, Conservation Authority files; Legislation (Planning Act, Ontario Water Resources Act, Conservation Authorities Act, Federal Fisheries Act, Endangered Species Act, Species At Risk Act, Migratory Birds Convention Act, Aggregate Resources Act, Provincial Policy Statement, etc.); technical guidelines (Natural Heritage Reference Manual (OMNRF, 2010), the Significant Wildlife Habitat Technical Guide (OMNRF, 2010), the Significant Wildlife Habitat Ecoregion 6E Criteria Schedules (2015)
Regional Concerns – Landscape Ecology, Natural Heritage System, Significant Landscape Features (ANSI)
Air Photo Analysis
Landscape Analysis
Ecological Land Classification

Terrestrial Surveys

Woodland Assessment and Delineation – tree inventories, Butternut surveys, ISO arborist studies
Wetland Assessment and Delineation – O.W.E.S.
Wildlife – Breeding Birds, Wetland Birds, Incidental Birds, Small Mammals, Large Mammals. Herptiles, Amphibian Calling, Bats, Butterflies and other insects
Vegetation surveys
Endangered Species – Species at Risk – in accordance with the Endanger Species Act

Aquatic Surveys

Surface drainage
Benthic Surveys – O.B.B.N., O.S.A.P.
Fish Community Surveys – O.S.A.P.
Fish Habitat Assessment – O.S.A.P.
Amphibian Surveys – Marsh Monitoring Program

Significant Wildlife Habitat Assessment

Seasonal Concentration Areas – OMNRF
Rare Vegetation Communities – OMNRF
Specialized Wildlife Habitat – OMNRF
Habitats of Species of Conservation Concern – OMNRF
Animal Movement Corridors – OMNRF