Ontario Working with Conservation Experts to Protect More Natural Areas


Ontario Working with Conservation Experts to Protect More Natural Areas

New working group to provide advice on strategies to expand protected and conserved areas

April 1, 2021

Environment, Conservation and Parks

TORONTO — The Ontario government has established a working group of conservation experts to identify opportunities to protect and conserve more natural areas in order to enhance the province’s natural diversity and provide more recreational opportunities for people to enjoy the outdoors.

“Expanding protected and conserved natural areas is a top priority in our Made-in-Ontario Environment Plan and we want to find new, innovative ways to meet this commitment,” said Jeff Yurek, Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks. “That’s why we want to hear from conservation and community leaders whose expertise can help identify new strategies to leverage the ideas, talents and expertise of the private sector and other outside organizations to help build on our government’s conservation efforts, like the Greenlands Conservation Partnership.”

The Protected Areas Working Group is made up of experts from the private sector, non-governmental organizations, as well as representatives from Indigenous communities.

Members include:

  • Peter Kendall (Chair), Executive Director, Schad Foundation
  • Andre Vallillee, Environment Program Director, Metcalf Foundation
  • Chris McDonell, Chief Forester, Rayonier Advanced Materials
  • David Flood, General Manager, Wahkohtowin Development GP Inc.
  • Geoff Burt, CEO, Consecon Foundation
  • George Ross, former Deputy Minister of Northern Development, Mines, Research and Innovation and Consumer Services
  • John Beaucage, Principal, Counsel Public Affairs and former Chief of Wasauksing First Nation
  • John Snobelen, former Minister of Natural Resources
  • Lorne Johnson, Vice-President, Ivey Foundation
  • Lynette Mader, Manager of Provincial Operations, Ducks Unlimited
  • Mike Hendren, Vice-President (Ontario Region), Nature Conservancy of Canada
  • Paul Genest, Senior Vice-President, Power Corporation

The working group will explore a number of areas, such as identifying opportunities and addressing barriers to increasing protected and conserved natural areas, and how public-private partnerships could be used to further advance conservation efforts. The working group will deliver a report with recommendations to the Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks.

“I want to thank Minister Yurek for his leadership on terrestrial conservation in Ontario. I’m honoured to chair the new Protected Areas Working Group which is made up of some of Ontario’s leading conservation experts,” said Peter Kendall, Executive Director, Schad Foundation. “For the next two months, our group will identify opportunities to increase protected areas in Ontario. By working together, we are confident Ontario will once again become a leader in conservation.”

Protecting and recovering natural spaces and species and supporting conservation efforts to preserve Ontario’s rich biodiversity are key commitments in the government’s Made-in-Ontario Environment Plan.

Quick Facts

  • Ontario manages and protects 340 provincial parks and 295 conservation reserves, totaling 9.8 million hectares or over 9 per cent of the province.
  • Conserving natural spaces can play an important role in mitigating and adapting to the effects of climate change by providing safe havens for wildlife, capturing and storing carbon, and improving resilience to weather events, such as flooding and drought.
  • Recently, the government announced an investment of $20 million over four years in the new Greenlands Conservation Partnership to help the Nature Conservancy of Canada and the Ontario Land Trust Alliance secure land to conserve ecologically important natural areas and protect wetlands, grasslands and forests that help mitigate the effects of climate change.
  • Ontario is also investing $12 million to support the Greenbelt Foundation’s ongoing work to protect, promote and improve the Greenbelt in the province’s Golden Horseshoe region.

Related Topics

Environment and Energy

Learn more about how Ontario protects and restores wildlife and the environment. Includes information on conservation and the electricity system. Learn more


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Media Contacts

Gary Wheeler

Communications Branch



Andrew Buttigieg

Minister’s Office