The Cootes to Escarpment EcoPark System is divided into six core natural areas called Heritage Lands, which reflect their natural and cultural heritage components. From 2012 to 2019, the Cootes to Escarpment EcoPark System partners are preparing comprehensive joint management plans for each of the six heritage land areas
What are Heritage Lands
The six core heritage land areas of the Cootes to Escarpment EcoPark System are groupings of ecopark system lands that reflect the natural and cultural components of their respective areas and are based on existing Environmentally Significant/Sensitive Areas. The province of Ontario recognizes many parts of these natural lands as Areas of Natural and Scientific Interest or Provincially Significant Wetlands and has included them within provincial natural heritage system. These natural areas contain some of the most botanically rich lands in Canada and provide habitat for many important bird, reptile, amphibian, fish and insect species as well as many species at risk.
The Six Cootes to Escarpment Heritage Lands
The map below shows the six Heritage Lands (click on the map to see a larger version).
What are management plans?
Management plans provide a single, coherent framework for holistic management of the partner-owned properties within each of the six heritage land areas. The plans are intended to enhance protection of important natural and cultural features and improve sustainable recreation, education and research opportunities.
The management plans address:
The management plans include designation of Niagara Escarpment Parks and Open Space System (NEPOSS) land classifications and zones on the partner-owned properties within the Heritage Lands areas. These land classifications and zones reflect the partners’ vision for use of the lands, but do not supersede existing land use zoning, legislation and regulations, which continue to apply.
Community and Stakeholder involvement
Community and stakeholder engagement is an important aspect of plan development. Public meetings will be held, in different phases of management plan development, to ensure that community members are well-informed and have opportunities to provide input and feedback on the plans as they are developed. Stakeholders will be engaged throughout management plan development, including through Stakeholder Advisory Groups formed of interested individuals and representatives of organizations that will be affected by or have an interest in the Heritage Lands areas.
How are management plans developed?
Preparation of the management plans are guided by the Niagara Escarpment Parks and Open Space System (NEPOSS) Planning Manual. Plans are based on detailed information about the area in question, from background research, field studies and input from community members, stakeholders and partner staff.
Five Phases of management plans development:
PHASE 1: Project initiation
Develop project charter, form project steering committee, identify stakeholders, form stakeholder advisory committee
PHASE 2: Background research and information compilation
Undertake natural and cultural resource inventories and research, field work to confirm and augment existing information and fill in gaps, review of planning context, best practices review of management policies, GIS and mapping, identify management issues that need to be addressed
PHASE 3: Land classification and zones and management policies
Apply NEPOSS land classification and zones to partner owned properties and develop management policies.
PHASE 4: Plan development
Finalize land classifications and zones, and management policies; prepare draft management plan
PHASE 5: Plan finalization and approval
Finalize management plan and submit for approval by participating partner agencies
The first management plan was completed for the Burlington Heights Heritage lands in 2014. More information on the plan can be found on the Burlington Heights Plan page. Two other plans for Clappsion-Grindstone Heritage Lands and Waterdown- Sassafras Woods Heritage Lands are currently being developed. Funding for the preparation of the plan was generously provided by the Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation and Ontario Trillium Foundation.