Kitchener's natural heritage system is anchored by the Grand River, and further characterized by streams flowing into the Grand and their valleylands, by fish habitat, wetlands, woodlands, and the wildlife habitat in these and other open space systems.

Kitchener's natural lands are also rich in aesthetic beauty and biological diversity. They provide a wide range of public health, recreational, environmental and economic benefits to the city and its citizens.

Where is the natural heritage system?

Kitchener's natural heritage system is currently 7087 hectares (approx. 51.7 per cent of the city). The system is dispersed throughout the city with many places providing opportunities for walking, running, biking, and enjoyment of nature.

You can take a look at some of these natural areas through our online storymap

Note: Story Map requires a Google Chrome or Firefox internet browser.

Why do we protect it?

This green infrastructure is just as valued and valuable as other municipal assets such as roads and sewers, critical to a high quality of life, and deserving of careful planning, management and adequate resourcing or financial support.

How do we protect it?

The Kitchener Natural Heritage System Background Report was undertaken to provide technical recommendations for the policies in the New Official Plan (Section 7.C.2).

The new Official Plan policies aim to strike a balance between protection of the natural heritage system while providing opportunity for growth and development.

These Official Plan policies provide protection based on each one's particular feature's significance and sensitivity.

Features categorized as core natural heritage features are afforded the greatest level of protection and are designated natural heritage conservation, which generally prohibits development.

Features identified as significant wildlife habitat, significant landforms and ecological restoration areas also place limitations on development within and adjacent to; requiring further studies to determine whether development within the feature is appropriate and how it should occur.