the Big Picture

The "Big Picture" landscape analysis provides an ecological basis for identifying core natural areas, significant natural areas and corridors as well as identifying the best bets for areas to restore to expand the core areas and establish effective habitat linkages. 

The following maps illustrate the three types of areas identified using the Niagara Region as an example. Each type of area is described in more detail elsewhere. This page shows how the different components fit together and can be used for different purposes.

Carolinian Core Natural Areas

core areas

Core natural areas were identified from detailed maps of conservation scores for each 25x25m map unit across the entire Carolinian zone. Clusters of adjacent 25 metre by 25 metre map units with values 12 or greater were grouped and any cluster larger than 200 ha was automatically considered a "core natural area". Core natural areas over 200 ha were concentrated mainly in areas with higher percentage natural vegetation cover. Sizable regions had no core natural areas larger than 200 ha. In these areas, core natural areas were identified using the MNR-recommended minimum size of "significant woodland" (40 or 4 hectares) was used, based on percentage forest cover by township (i.e. 40 hectares where cover is 15-30%, and 4 hectares where cover is less than 15%).

Carolinian Core Natural Areas and Other Significant Natural Areas

Other Significant Natural Areas were identified as natural areas with 12 or more points and larger than the minimum area for significant woodland in each township (i.e. 40 hectares where cover is 15-30%, and 4 hectares where cover is less than 15%).

Carolinian Core Natural Areas, Other Significant Natural Areas and "Best Bet" Habitat Corridors

core areas and corridors

The best potential habitat corridors to connect the system of Carolinian core natural areas were also identified using the best available ecological inventory data, a landscape-level ecological approach and state-of-the-art information technology. This approach used an algorithm to find the best ecological corridor for the "least cost". The general goal was to connect core natural areas within 20 kilometres of each other with corridors at least 200 metres in width incorporating existing natural areas. These corridor alignments generally follow existing areas of natural vegetation cover, especially riparian areas. Where no such alignments with many existing natural areas could occur, the cores were connected along the "highest value per unit length" route.

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