The State of Ontario’s Protected Areas Report
Protected areas play an important role in Ontario’s efforts to conserve nature, cultural heritage and provide opportunities for tourism and recreation. Ontario has established a world class system of protected areas. This system currently includes 340 provincial parks and 295 conservation reserves covering an area of 9.5 million hectares, or about nine per cent of Ontario.
Ontario’s provincial park and conservation reserve policy is founded on the concept that a naturally diverse and well managed system of protected areas supports a high quality of life for Ontario’s residents and ensures ecological, social and economic benefits now, and into the future.
Provincial parks and conservation reserves are administered under the Provincial Parks and Conservation Reserves Act, 2006 (PPCRA). The state of Ontario’s Protected Areas Report (SOPAR) meets the legislative requirement in which the Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks must report publicly on the state of Ontario’s provincial park and conservation reserve system at least once every 10 years.
The State of Ontario’s Protected Areas Report (SOPAR):
- provides context for the planning and management of provincial parks and conservation reserves;
- outlines the degree to which representative ecosystems, biodiversity and elements of our natural and cultural heritage have been protected;
- describes the ecological condition and potential pressures on the protected areas system; and
- looks at traditional uses, recreational, research and educational opportunities and economic values and impacts at a provincial scale.
In 2011, the first State of Ontario’s Protected Areas Report was published as a single report comprised of 4 chapters of indicators covering the reporting period from 2001 to 2009. For 2021, the format for the report was changed to include multiple individual indicator reports covering the reporting period of 2010-2019. This new format allows each indicator report to be updated as new information becomes available, rather than waiting 10 years for a single report to be published. Collectively, the indicator reports meet the requirements under the PPCRA.
Indicators can help to tell us what is happening over time and track the well-being of our provincial parks and conservation reserves. They detect change and trends in things like how well an ecosystem is represented within our protected areas system.
SOPAR 2021 includes the following indicator reports by theme. New indicators may be added over time as information becomes available or to meet new requirements: