Mapping Our Natural Heritage
The Watershed Inventory Project assessed the Muskoka River and the northern portion of the Black-Simcoe tertiary watersheds, covering over 750,000 hectares of the Canadian Shield.
Funded by The Ontario Trillium Foundation, the Watershed Inventory Project was a collaborative effort of the Muskoka Heritage Foundation, Muskoka Watershed Council, the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (Parry Sound District) and The District Municipality of Muskoka. Additional funding and support for the aquatic component was received from Fisheries and Oceans Canada.
Completion of the Watershed Inventory Project was made possible with a grant from the ESRI Conservation Program to cover the cost of software.
The Muskoka Watershed Inventory identifies significant natural areas and areas of the watershed that are degraded. The Inventory can be used to identify significant areas for protection or areas that would benefit from stewardship programs. The terrestrial component of the Watershed Inventory Project (WIP) was completed in 2007 and the aquatic component was completed in 2009.
The purpose of the Inventory is to identify ecologically significant areas using the best available datasets as well as to identify where there is a lack of existing protection for significant areas on both Crown and private land. It also identifies whether or not these significant areas are connected across the landscape. The Inventory uses a transparent, ecology-based methodology produced by the Nature Conservancy of Canada and the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources who are leaders in defining and conserving significant areas based on best available ecological principles.
The results of the Inventory are intended for natural heritage planning, conservation, and restoration efforts of the collaborative project members and in the following manner:
- The Muskoka Heritage Foundation, through the Muskoka Heritage Trust, will be able to establish priority areas for potential acquisition or remediation and therefore use limited resources efficiently.
- The District Municipality of Muskoka will be able to use this information as background to a natural heritage strategy that will identify core natural areas and connecting systems and recommend levels of protection.
- The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources will be able to use the findings to assist with natural heritage planning on crown land throughout the watershed and add new information to the provincial database.
- The Muskoka Watershed Council will be able to report the changes in the sustainability of natural areas and address watershed health through the Muskoka Watershed Report Card.
- Along with the Muskoka Heritage Foundation, the Watershed Council will be able to use the products generated from the Inventory to develop education and stewardship programs.
- Fisheries and Oceans Canada will be able to use the findings to assist with fish management activities.
All six collaborative members will continue to work together to promote the need for protected areas and to encourage stewardship and education for natural heritage on both Crown and patent land in order to maintain and enhance a logical and continuous natural system.