McGuinty Government Helping Property Owners Maintain Natural Areas
Natural Spaces Program Promotes Preservation And Restoration
PONTYPOOL -- The McGuinty government is taking the next step in its plan to protect greenspace by supporting the efforts of private landowners to preserve and restore natural areas on their property, Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty announced today.
"By encouraging the protection and preservation of our natural areas in southern Ontario, we're improving the quality of our air and water, protecting natural areas that are home to a diverse range of native plants and animals and keeping Ontario green and beautiful," said Premier McGuinty.
"Good stewardship has to extend beyond provincial parks and other public spaces -- and we want to involve all Ontarians, including those who own environmentally significant land, in taking environmental action that benefits us all."
The Natural Spaces Program provides tools and resources so that landowners can voluntarily contribute to the good stewardship of Ontario's rich natural heritage. The program will cover an area south of a line from Midland through Peterborough to Ottawa, which is home to the province's greatest diversity of plants and animals. Because 90 per cent of the land is privately owned, the program will engage landowners in protecting natural areas by:
- Providing a $6-million grant to the Ontario Heritage Trust, in partnership with the Ministry of Culture, to acquire and secure significant natural heritage properties
- Supporting increased restoration of lands and forests in southern Ontario, including a $2-million grant to the Trees Ontario Foundation
- Encouraging conservation and stewardship by providing lower property taxes to eligible landowners under the Managed Forest Tax Incentive Program
- Mapping the natural heritage systems across southern Ontario to identify areas that would benefit from restoration and tree planting.
Premier McGuinty also announced that the Natural Spaces Leadership Alliance, a stakeholder working group that represents conservation and resource industry related organizations, will play a key advisory role in the development and implementation of the Natural Spaces Program.
"Protecting and restoring natural areas and conserving greenspace can only be achieved with the participation and support of landowners, but the benefits will be enjoyed by all Ontarians," said Minister of Natural Resources David Ramsay.
"By making changes to how land is assessed under the Managed Forest Tax Incentive Program, our government is creating a property tax environment that will encourage landowners to practise good stewardship of forests," said Finance Minister Greg Sorbara.
"The Natural Spaces Program builds on our government's Greenbelt initiative, provides a greener environment and healthier communities and creates opportunities for Ontarians to enjoy nature close to home," said Premier McGuinty.