Catch SNC’s new ‘Natural Heritage System’ maps streamed online next month

Zandbergen photo, Nation Valley News

FINCH — A Natural Heritage System (NHS) is a network of interconnected natural features such as forests, rivers, wetlands, and agricultural lands — and they’re going to be the subject of a local study spearheaded by South Nation Conservation (SNC).

The United Counties of Prescott and Russell (UCPR) and the United Counties of Stormont, Dundas, and Glengarry (SDG) have partnered with the watershed authority to complete the study in Eastern Ontario.

Core natural areas and natural linkages that support wildlife movement and natural processes necessary to maintain biological diversity, natural functions, and ecosystems are other key features of a Natural Heritage Systems. Their protection “is necessary to maintain and enhance long-term quality of life, environmental health, and economic prosperity in the region,” says SNC.

As a provincial requirement, both Counties identify NHS policies in their Official Plans to protect the ecological integrity of these areas. SNC will complete the updated study on behalf of both municipal entities “to ensure these policies remain appropriate, effective, and implementable.”

“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.

Alison McDonald, SNC Approvals Lead. Zandbergen photo, Nation Valley News

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 also plans to live-stream 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 p.m. (SDG)
  • Wednesday, February 10, 2021 at 7 p.m. (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.

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