Our goal as environmental consultants is to ensure any proposed development is carried out in the most suitable way to protect and conserve ecosystem function.
While buffers around wetland boundaries may seem perfectly fine, there are no management practices in place to ensure optimal ecological functions are restored. Succession, invasive species, and past drainage impacts can prevent a wetland or forest patch from recovering from past and current land use.
Ecological restoration must be incorporated into development planning and carried through to any new landowners. It is assumed that Provincially Significant Wetlands (PSWs) are pristine ecosystems without impacts. However, most PSWs are impacted by previous land use and drainage, and require restoration to help promote their natural recovery to a functional state. With an urbanizing landscape we are encouraging new landowners to take on this "good stewardship" responsibility. This may include planting native species, removing invasive species, installing bird or bat nesting structures, maintaining wetlands by preventing drainage, and monitoring their own lands by participating in Citizen Science Projects.
All development plans should always incorporate natural green space, whether it currently exists or not. Restoration efforts alongside development can even help improve ecosystem function when it was existing in a degraded state prior to development.
(Photo source: River Oak Estates)
With knowledgeable Practitioners, ecosystems can be created from barren fields. Wetlands, forests, and stream creation should be considered in development plans whenever possible.
(Photo source: Grand River CA, Snyder Flats)
Walking trails, boardwalks and rest areas can be designed into natural green spaces. New housing can even be developed next to wetlands if the ecosystem function is maintained and impact is negligible.
Natural ecosystems provide a variety of services to society. This includes, water filtration, carbon storage, wood products, medicine from plants, storm protection and flooding attenuation.
Landowners in Ontario can receive property tax reductions for maintaining natural areas on their lands, but it does not necessarily relieve any financial burdens as the total property tax is still high. However, a property tax credit that applies to the federal income tax will directly lower the landowners tax burden, and better promote long-term sustainability of these natural areas.
Landowners can encourage each other to be good land stewards and protect and maintain natural ecosystems and wildlife on their lands. Normalizing natural landscapes within housing developments and good stewardship practices can help perpetuate a positive outlook natural green spaces in the long term.