Natural Heritage Action Plan

About the plan

The Natural Heritage Action Plan (NHAP) will help us prioritize Guelph’s natural heritage goals and create an implementation plan for protecting our natural resources as part of complete healthy communities. The plan will create a framework for the City’s Official Plan policies specific to the natural heritage system and watershed planning.

The NHAP will include the identification and development of recommendations, studies and guidelines to maintain enhance and restore natural heritage, surface water and ground water features in Guelph. This work will also identify and inform continuous improvement opportunities for development reviews that deal with environmental planning requirements.

What is natural heritage?

Natural heritage refers to the many elements of biodiversity, including plants, animals, ecosystem types, and geological structures and formations. As part of natural heritage we aim to take the natural elements which we inherited from past generations, maintain them in good health today and bestow them to future generations.

What’s happening?

The City is starting work on the Natural Heritage Action Plan. We are currently doing a background review and defining a detailed project scope.

We are also planning community engagement opportunities for fall 2017.  Check this webpage for updates!


The NHAP was presented at the March 6, 2017 Committee of a Whole and approved by City Council at the March 27, 2017. A copy of the staff report and project charter can be found below.

Related documents

Key terms

The Natural Heritage Action Plan includes the following topics:

  • Watershed planning involves creating goals, objectives and direction for the protection of water resources and the management of human activities, land, water, aquatic life and resources within a watershed. Watershed planning helps us assess the many different impacts on our watersheds and set targets for land protection and restoration.
  • Environmental monitoring means to observe and evaluate the effectiveness of the City’s Natural Heritage policies, decisions and programs. An example of environmental monitoring is measuring the type and number of species in our natural areas, so that we know where there are rare species in the City and how they are changing over time.
  • Land securement means exploring opportunities to protect lands within the natural heritage system through partnerships with non-profit or other environmental groups, City ownership, legal tools like easements in favor of conservation and other similar tools.
  • Biodiversity is the variety of life on Earth, including plants and animals, and their many complex connections.
  • Plant and wildlife management means establishing goals and objectives to determine how animals and plants are looked after and overseen, recognising the challenges in living with wildlife in an urban area.
  • River systems means the areas and functions that make up the two major rivers that run through Guelph, the Speed and Eramosa Rivers.
  • Restoration is the process of assisting with the recovery of an ecosystem that has been degraded, damaged or destroyed (definition from the Society for Ecological Restoration).
  • Technical manuals and guidelines are documents that help people understand the requirements needed to complete studies for projects that have an impact on the environment and how to implement practices to avoid or address these impacts.
  • Data management and sharing is creating protocols and tools for the City to receive, collect, store, use and share information about biodiversity and the river systems.
  • Education and outreach are important to help people understand the importance of our natural heritage and water resources, and build awareness so that the community fosters an ethic of stewardship which means to use natural resources in a responsible and sustainable way with consideration for other species and future generations.

For more information

Adèle Labbé
Environmental Planner
Planning, Urban Design and Building Services
519-822-1260 extension 2563
April Nix
Environmental Planner
Planning, Urban Design and Building Services
519-822-1260 extension 2718