Ontario Newsroom

New Rules for Species at Risk Protection

Archived News Release

New Rules for Species at Risk Protection

Ontario Moves Forward with Protection for 65 More Endangered Species

Ontario is simplifying rules for landowners, municipalities and businesses under its Endangered Species Act (ESA), while maintaining its place as a North American leader in species protection.

On July 1, Ontario is streamlining its approach to species at risk protection by implementing standardized rules and an online registry for certain low-risk activities.

The changes include:

  • Making it easier for volunteers and researchers to undertake projects that protect endangered species
  • Simplifying requirements for municipalities to carry out activities that protect human health and safety, such as road repairs
  • A time-limited transition provision that will allow projects currently in development to continue while mitigating adverse effects on endangered species
  • Harmonizing requirements under the Endangered Species Act and Crown Forest Sustainability Act to preserve protection while avoiding overlap

The existing approval process remains for all other activities. The Province will continue to ensure compliance through education and outreach, as well as monitoring, auditing and enforcement.

Protecting Ontario's biodiversity is part of the Ontario government's plan to ensure a healthy environment for future generations.

Quick Facts

  • On July 1, 65 more species will benefit from habitat protection. Ontario protects about 150 threatened and endangered species, including polar bear, chimney swift, butternut and wolverine.
  • For July 1, a new species at risk website will be launched to provide easy-to-access information to help users comply with the Endangered Species Act.
  • An example of low-risk activities includes a landowner who wants to cut down an endangered butternut tree. The landowner will be able to register and plant additional butternut elsewhere, which is faster and simpler than going through an application process.
  • Since 2007, Ontario's Species at Risk Stewardship Fund has supported more than 600 protection and recovery projects and restored more than 24,000 hectares of habitat.
  • Ontario helps protect the province's biodiversity, including fragile ecosystems and species at risk, by supporting the Invasive Species Centre, the only one of its kind in Canada.

Background Information

Additional Resources


“Ontario’s Endangered Species Act continues to be the gold standard in North America for legislation to protect and recover species at risk. New rules will make it easier for landowners and businesses to comply with the act, which will continue to be a leader in species at risk protection.”

David Orazietti

Minister of Natural Resources

“The Ontario Federation of Agriculture welcomes the proposed Endangered Species Act regulatory changes based on the recommendations of the ESA Panel. We believe that these regulatory and administrative changes will improve and streamline the ESA permitting and approvals process while maintaining the integrity and purpose of the legislation.”

Mark Wales

President of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture

“Public safety, environmental protection and economic prosperity are high priorities in Ontario’s rural and northern communities. These changes will make it easier for municipalities to build and maintain safe infrastructure in a way that protects plants and wildlife, and they will help to ensure that Ontario’s environmental regulations are practical and effective for property owners and businesses.”

Russ Powers

President of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario

Media Contacts



Business and Economy Environment and Energy Jobs and Employment Rural and North