The Importance of Wetlands — Turtles Kingston

The Importance of Wetlands — Turtles Kingston

Provincially Significant Wetlands

Wetlands are ranked to determine whether they should receive special protection as “provincially significant wetlands” (PSW). The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry is responsible for determining which wetlands and wetland complexes are provincially significant. Significance is determined by the Ontario Wetland Evaluation System (OWES) which identifies and measures wetland functions, and provides a means of evaluating the relative importance of individual wetlands based on perceived societal values.

OWES generates a numerical ranking of wetland values or functions, which are grouped into four main categories: 

1.  Biological Component: recognizes that wetlands can differ in terms of productivity and habitat diversity 

2.  Social Component: measures some of the direct human uses of wetlands, including economically valuable products (such as wild rice, commercial fish and furbearers), recreational activities and educational uses 

3.  Hydrological Component: characterizes water-related values, such as the reduction of flood peaks and contributions to groundwater recharge and discharge, and water quality improvements 

4.  Special Features Component: addresses the geographic rarity of wetlands, the occurrence of rare species, ecosystem age, and habitat quality for wildlife, including fish

However, as a result of Bill 23 (More Homes Built Faster Act), which passed in November 2022, how wetlands are evaluated as provincially significant has changed. The process no longer considers the presence of endangered species to determine if a wetland is significant and no longer allows wetland that are located close to each other to be ‘complexed’ and considered as one system.

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