Photo of a boardwalk in a natural area.

The City is committed to stewarding, preserving and protecting our natural areas.

A natural area is an area of land or water that is dominated by native vegetation in naturally occurring patterns. This includes grasslands, forests, shrublands, wetlands, and riparian areas (which are areas along rivers or streams). They are different from naturalized areas, which are previously maintained areas that have been or are in the process of being reverted into a more natural state. Currently, the City manages over 3,000 hectares of natural areas.

They offer many amazing benefits for our city and its ecosystems, such as:  

  • Provide habitat for animals and other plants
  • Capture carbon and release oxygen 
  • Reduce the urban heat-island effect by keeping the City cooler on hot days
  • Filter water runoff 
  • Control erosion
  • Provide areas for recreation as well as physical and mental wellness
  • Increase property values

The City understands the importance of our natural areas and works to steward them so the benefits can continue for generations, appreciating over time. Our natural areas are largely left undisturbed to undergo natural succession processes. Yet there are times when, for ecological or safety reasons, people need to get involved in looking after a natural area. This is why the City has a dedicated Natural Area Operations team assigned to maintain and care for the long-term health of our natural areas by balancing ecological integrity with recreation and public safety.

The City-wide Natural Area Management Plan  (42MB) provides a detailed overview on how the City manages natural areas. More specifics on the stewardship activities taken in natural areas can be found below.