Publications to Download

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Atlas of the Mammals of Ontario

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O.F.O. Ontario Bird Checklist (PDF: 145k)

Park Boundary Checklist (PDF: 1.6 mb)
The central purpose of this annotated checklist is to provide an overview of concepts that local naturalist groups and interested citizens could use during the public consultation process on Ontario Living Legacy boundary refinement. This checklist will also be helpful to groups interested in establishing boundaries and gaining a better knowledge of natural areas within their region. The information gathered during the completion of the checklist could be taken to local municipalities for consideration during planning and development discussions.

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Fact Sheets

Woodlands Fact Sheets

Cores and Corridors – The Importance of a Green System in Southern Ontario (PDF: 394k)
One of the most fundamental principles of conservation is that there should be a system of natural (or 'green') corridors across the landscape, interspersed with large core natural areas. These core and corridor areas provide an inter-connected web of natural habitats. This fact sheet explores the importance of cores and corridors at three different scales: the local community, a regional scale (e.g. Oak Ridges Moraine), and a bioregional scale, such as southern Ontario on the whole. It introduces the Big Picture, 2002 concept.

Introducing Old Growth – The Ultimate Forest (PDF: 755k)
This fact sheet is a simple guide to old growth features of southern Ontario woodlands. It does not define old growth, because each forest has been uniquely crafted by local soils, climate, geology and landforms and is populated by its own collection of plants and animals. Instead, it guides you to things you can look for in any woodland, to assess its old growth potential. Old growth features can develop "anew" in forests as young as 100 years, while some existing features are remnants of the past. By seeking out old growth features you can learn about what makes old growth special, and why they are important parts of southern Ontario's woodland heritage.

Ten Ways to Save Your Local Woods (and Water!) (PDF: 414k)
All across Ontario, individuals and communities are mobilizing to protect their local woodlands in a variety of creative ways. Here are 10 ways to save your local woods. These 10 ways work equally well for wetlands and other aquatic habitats (coastal habitats, river valleys, etc.), alvars and other non-forested wilderness.

Forest Fragmentation (PDF: 170k)
The loss of woodland habitat in southern Ontario is alarming. Over 80 percent of the upland woodlands south and east of the Canadian Shield have been lost since the nineteenth century. Not only has there been overall loss of woodlands, the quality and ecological viability of many of the remaining woodlands are also being degraded. Simply measuring the amount of woodland cover fails to address how well these features function or how effective they are in providing environmental benefits. Forest fragmentation, or the "carving up" of woodlands into smaller and more isolated patches is threatening forest ecosystems in southern Ontario. Understanding forest fragmentation is easier if you know a little about woodland ecology.

Urban Forests: An Important Part of Our Natural Heritage (PDF: 102k)
The urban forest is an integral part of our woodland heritage in southern Ontario. This resource is typically located in areas under intense pressures from human activity. At the same time, these forests have a direct influence on the urban population and provide us with a host of essential environmental, economic and psychological "goods and services."

Making the Connection Between Woodlands and Water (PDF: 259k)
Like wetlands, forests store great volumes of water in themselves. They help replenish underground stores of water and protect watersheds by limiting erosion and flooding. Many life forms are dependent on forest habitats. The trend of ever-hastening loss of forest cover is contributing to a dangerous disruption of natural systems.

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A Guide to Some of Ontario's Spiders
Get to know some of Ontario's spiders. Spiders live among us in almost every conceivable habitat. Their ecological role, one that benefits us, is as the ultimate predators of insects. They pursue this role with instinctive dedication; some have even moved into warm micro-climates of people’s homes, unwittingly protecting us from pesky insects. In turn, they are a food source for many animals, forming an important link in the food chain. An effort has been made, in this guide, to choose species and families to represent commonly observed spiders, distinctive and dramatic species, and examples of some unusual families that make our arachnofauna so diverse and interesting.

Species At Risk in Northern Ontario Guide (PDF: 1.4 mb)
There are more than 200 species at risk in Ontario, meaning that these species are in danger of becoming extinct or of disappearing from the province, and more than 50 species at risk in northern Ontario. This number is growing every year. Familiarize yourself with at-risk species in northern Ontario, descriptions, ranges, threats and existing protections with this guide. The Species At Risk in Northern Ontario Guide is also available here in an online version.

Northern Forest Foraging Guide (PDF:1 mb)
Ontario’s forests, meadows and waters provide an incredible range of nutritious and delicious edible wild plants. Ontario Nature has prepared this foraging guide as an introduction to this local resource, and to encourage people to get outside and experience the wonders the natural world provides. The Northern Forest Foraging Guide is also available here in an online version.

Harvesting and Processing Edible Wild Plants Best Practices Guide (PDF: 765k)
Check out our new guide on sustainable harvesting, and proper handling and packaging methods for edible wild plants.

Edible Wild Plants in Northwestern Ontario: A Primer (PDF: 2mb)

Dragonfly and Damselfly Guide
Learn to identify some of Ontario's dragonflies and damselflies, this popular guide includes more than 40 species.

Butterfly and Moth Guide
Learn to identify some of Ontario's butterflies and moths, this popular online guide includes more than 24 species.

Crayfish of Ontario ID guides (PDF: 5.6 mb)
Did you know that Ontario has nine species of crayfish? Elusive and all too often overlooked, these fascinating creatures can tell us a lot about what is happening in our aquatic ecosystems. A new identification guide to Ontario's crayfish, produced collaboratively by the Bishop's Mills Natural History Centre, the Toronto Zoo and other expert crayfish-ers from across the province, is now available for free from Ontario Nature. These beautiful laminated guides are designed to assist the study of crayfish in the field, highlighting the unique characteristics of each species. Copies of the guide can be obtained from Ontario Nature's head office and a downloadable PDF: is available at

Black Bears (PDF: 170k)
Seeing a wild black bear is a memorable event. But the best sighting "for you and the bear” is a fleeting glimpse because problems begin when bears and people meet. You can protect your belongings and Ontario's black bears if you know some basic biology and take precautions in bear country.

Backyard Habitats (PDF: 528k)
Regardless of where you live, you can turn your garden into a small wildlife refuge. Learn how you can help preserve valuable wildlife habitat and maintain plant and animal populations that are decreasing due to urbanization.

Natural Invaders (PDF: 206k)
Did you know that many common flowers and nursery varieties threaten to replace our native vegetation? These natural invaders may be growing in your own backyard!

Species at Risk in Ontario (PDF: 189k)
Find out more about the hundreds of species at risk in Ontario, which include endangered, threatened and special concern species.

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A Stronger Landscape, A Stronger Legacy
We must improve natural heritage systems protection across the Greater Golden Horseshoe to maintain and enhance the environmental health, ecological integrity and economic prosperity of the region. Natural heritage system planning is a strategic approach to addressing biodiversity loss, land use change and the uncertainties of climate change so that we always have clean air, clean water and a rich diversity of plant and animal life to sustain present and future generations. A natural heritage system typically includes wetlands, forests, rivers, valley lands, farmland and other areas that provide habitat for wildlife.

How to build a bee box (PDF: 320k)

Managing Hay and Pasture to Benefit Grassland Birds (PDF: 1.1 mb)
Many of Ontario’s birds are becoming scarcer, but the species that depend on grasslands for their habitat are at special risk. The Couchiching Conservancy produced this preliminary guide for Carden landowners.

The Big Wild (PDF: 544k)

Junior Naturalist Manual (PDF: 14.6 mb)
Download the Junior Naturalist Manual for information about administering a Junior Naturalist program in your area. Information about administration, programming and sample activities are included.

Conservation Easements (PDF: 121k)
Conservation easements have helped many people to protect a great deal of open space. With a conservation easement, you protect your land without giving up ownership. You can continue to live on it and use it, or sell it, or pass it on to your heirs.

C.P.R. for Wetlands: Conserve, Protect and Restore (PDF: 134k)

Ontario's Greenway Vision (April 2006)
A Greenway for Ontario is Ontario Nature's vision for the future of land conservation in Ontario.

Greenway broadsheet (PDF: 2.5 mb)
It's time to make the connection...

The time is right to develop an Ontario Greenway, a robust network of natural core areas and linkages that:

  • Protects and restores core natural features and functions;
  • Protects water resources;
  • Protects and restores habitat for wildlife and species-at-risk;
  • Connect communities; and,
  • Provides amenities and recreational opportunities for present and future generations.

Habitat Creation With Native Plants (PDF: 655k)

Nature Reserves (PDF: 132k)

Wetland Restoration and Rehabilitation (PDF: 610k)

Urban Sprawl (PDF: 656k)
Places where people rode bikes, farmed fields, or hiked along quiet streams are now paved over with malls, industries and housing. Discover how you can help Ontario grow smarter!

A Smart Future for Ontario (2.12Mb)
How to Create Greenways and Curb Urban Sprawl in Your Community

Water at Risk brochure (PDF: 789k)
Water is essential to our bodies and vital to the natural world around us. Pollution, rapid development and poor land-use have put our water sources at risk.

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Without a trace? Reflecting on the 10th anniversary of Ontario's Endangered Species Act, 2007 (Digital publication format, PDF 10 mb)

Integrating Community Voices into Natural Heritage Systems Planning: Insights from Simcoe County and adjacent communities in the Nottawasaga watershed (Digital publication format, PDF: 13 mb)

Navigating the Swamp: Lessons on Wetland Offsetting for Ontario (Summary, PDF: 276 kb)

Navigating the Swamp: Lessons on Wetland Offsetting for Ontario (Full report, PDF: 680 kb)

Indigenous Perspectives on Conservation Offsetting: Five Case Studies from Ontario, Canada (PDF: 796 kb)

Protected Areas & Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) Certification in Ontario (PDF: 1.2 mb)

Potential for Safe Harbour Agreements in Ontario: Summary of Spring 2011 Workshops (PDF: 240 kb)

Biodiversity Offsetting in Ontario: Issues, accomplishments and future directions. Summary of Ontario Nature's 2014 - 2016 Project (PDF: 14.2 mb)

Key Issues In Biodiversity Offset Law and Policy: A Comparison of Six Jurisdictions (PDF: 1.39 mb)

Beyond the Fields: The Value of Forest and Freshwater Foods in Northern Ontario (PDF: 3.4 mb)

Threats to Forest and Fresh Water Foods (PDF: 2 mb)

Insights into Biodiversity Offsetting in Ontario: Summary of Ontario Nature's 2013-2014 Project (PDF: 8.8 mb)

Best Practices Guide to Natural Heritage Systems Planning (PDF 4.5 mb)

Bioregional Planning for Aggregate Extraction in the Townships of Uxbridge and Scugog 2014 (PDF:5.4 mb)

Mining in Ontario: A deeper look (PDF: 7.3 mb)

The road to extinction: A call to end the snapping turtle hunt (PDF: 5.3 mb)

Protecting Greenbelt Wetlands: How Effective is Policy? (Full report, PDF: 4.2 mb)

Protecting Greenbelt Wetlands: How Effective is Policy? (Summary, PDF: 2.2 mb)

Biodiversity in Ontario's Greenbelt (PDF: 2.7 mb)

Birds on the Farm: A Stewardship Guide (PDF: 3.4mb)

Ontario Nature's Green Way Forward: A Review of Natural Heritage Policies for Southern Ontario (Executive Summary) (PDF: 415kb)

Ontario Nature's Green Way Forward: A Review of Natural Heritage Policies for Southern Ontario (Full Report) (PDF: 612kb)

A Review of Ontario Municipal Board Natural Heritage Decisions (1996-2003) (PDF: 417k)

Conservation Guidelines for the Identification of Significant Woodlands in Southern Ontario (Draft - August 2004) (PDF: 905k)

Ontario's Living Legacy Report Card for Parks and Protected Areas (PDF: 2.6 mb)

Recommendations for Developing Ecotourism in the Northern Boreal: Nibinamik Bird Survey, 2005 (PDF: 847k)

Recommendations for Developing Ecotourism in the Northern Boreal: North Caribou Lake Bird Survey, 2005 (PDF: 686k)

Recommendations for Developing Ecotourism in the Northern Boreal: North Spirit Lake Breeding Bird Survey, 2005 (PDF: 1.2 mb)

Remoteness Sells: A Report on Resource-based Tourism in Northwestern Ontario (PDF: 9.4 mb)

Towards Conserving the Birds of Ontario (PDF: 2.4 mb)

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A Citizens' Toolkit for Nature Conservation

A Greenprint for Action
(PDF: 172k)
You have just learned that a favourite wetland or woodland will soon be destroyed by development unless you do something. Fast action is needed to save the area. What do you do? Here are the important steps that you should take.

About Making a Delegation to a Municipal Council or Standing Committee of Council (PDF: 127k)
Whether you live in a big city with a large municipal council, or a small municipality with only a few councillors, you, too, can make your voice heard by your local officials. Council delegations allow citizens to get local issues into the public arena, and are a basic component of the municipal democratic process.

Influencing Decision-Makers for Nature Protection (PDF: 143k)
Influencing the corporate or government decision-making process is not easy. As a person attempting to influence the process, you need to be aware that there are potentially hundreds of variables; however, some are more important than others. Here are some basic guidelines to get the types of decision you want.

Effective Letter-Writing (PDF: 143k)
So you're upset with the government's record on protecting woodlands. Or maybe they've just caved in again to yet another sprawling development proposal. You want to do something to help change their ways, but the enormity of the task makes success look hopeless. What can you do? One of the most effective weapons, readily available and proven by the test of time, is a letter.

Writing a News Release (PDF: 129k)
An effective news release is one of the most common ways of getting media coverage. At major news outlets, the same story will likely have to compete with hundreds of other news releases every day, so yours has to stand out.

Protected Areas Toolkit

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