Click to View Metadata.Functional Natural Heritage System (FNHS) is a series of overlays of valued natural system components. Many of these components have been derived from CLOCA‟s Ecological Land Classification (ELC) mapping. Developing the Natural Heritage System.FNHS components:a) Core Habitat Areas and Corridors:Core Habitat Areas: Although virtually all vegetated areas provide some habitat for wildlife, there are some habitats that can be considered “core” because they are able to provide for a large suite of wildlife or support sensitive wildlife species. Deciding which habitats should be considered core habitats is a somewhat subjective exercise depending on the species being considered, but for the purposes of defining a FNHS, the designation of core habitat areas has been made using the following criteria: • Size - the physical size of the habitat being measured. Larger sized habitats are preferable to smaller sized habitats. • Shape - refers to the geometric shape of the habitat being measured. Compact habitat patches (e.g. square or circular) are preferable to linear (e.g. rectangular) patches as they have fewer edges. • Juxtaposition - the position of the habitat on the landscape relative to other features such as settled areas or natural areas. Natural areas adjacent to other natural areas are preferred over natural areas adjacent to urban development. • Representation - the range of a specific habitat type in the watershed. A high diversity of well-distributed habitat types is preferable. • Multiple Function - the ability of a habitat to provide more than one function for local wildlife communities. • Species at Risk - refers to the ability of a habitat patch to support species at risk as identified by the Committee on the Status of Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) and the Committee on the Status of Species at Risk in Ontario (COSSARO). Habitat size and shape are important factors for any habitat, however in forests, size and shape are particularly important because they determine the amount of forest interior (100 m from forest edge) and deep forest interior (200 m from forest edge) that may be present. Forest interior is a prerequisite for many breeding birds as it provides increased protection from wind, light, nest parasitism and predation.As human development approaches and in some cases surrounds wildlife habitats, the effects of noise, light, disturbance from recreation or pets, and other stressors are increased. Consequently, species that are sensitive to disturbance are less likely to occupy these habitats even if they meet their needs for food or cover, and the result is a loss in overall biodiversity. Habitat size, shape and juxtaposition were evaluated using the LAM.Representation and multiple function have been assessed using ELC. Because wildlife have varying needs, and some have very specific needs, a wide variety of habitats must exist within a watershed to support biodiversity. Representation is not limited to broad habitats such as forests and wetlands; it includes types of forests as well as types of wetlands.The evaluation of habitats for species at risk within the CLOCA jurisdiction is done using information from the Natural Heritage Information Centre (NHIC), from data collected through field work, external documents, or Environmental Impact Studies, and from data reported to the Authority by the public.Corridors:Animals are not stationary. Species have a tendency to move between habitats to fulfill dietary or lifecycle needs, seek refuge, and escape predation, so connectivity between habitat patches is important for maintaining wildlife populations. At a broader scale, connectivity enables animal migration, which is integral to maintaining genetic diversity and facilitating the repopulation of habitats after local extinction events.Because corridors serve a number of functions and operate at varying scales, they can be categorized in the following manner: • Regional Corridors These are major movement corridors which connect a number of watersheds at a large landscape scale. Regional corridors are often comprised of upland areas since they exist across watershed divides and they are connected via large habitat patches. Examples of Regional Corridors include the Oak Ridges Moraine and Lake Iroquois Shoreline. • Landscape Corridors These are major movement routes within the watersheds that connect core areas and/or are robust enough to be sustainable as habitat units themselves. They typically follow linear features such as creeks and valleys, and can be composed of a series of independent habitats that allow wildlife to “hopscotch” across the landscape. Landscape corridors should be at least 100 metres in width. (Environment Canada, 2004) • Local Corridors These are minor movement routes within the watershed that help to connect habitat patches into a continuous series. They are often associated with creek valleys and typically function at a sub-watershed scale. They function with landscape corridors to connect the smaller habitats to the larger ones. Local corridors are 60 metres in width. b) Riparian Corridors:In order to protect/enhance the thermal regime of the watercourses in the CLOCA jurisdiction a minimum 30-metre buffer from the wetted width of either side of a watercourse is required. Watercourses can be permanent, intermittent and ephemeral. The 30-metre buffer requirement is well documented in and supports the goals, objectives and recommendations of the Central Lake Ontario Fisheries Management Plan. c) Species At Risk (SAR) Riparian Corridors:SAR riparian corridors are required to protect the reaches of watercourses that provide habitat for the provincially endangered Redside dace. Currently within the CLOCA jurisdiction Redside dace occurs only in reaches of the Lynde Creek Watershed, however ongoing watershed monitoring occurs across the jurisdiction for this species. In keeping with the recovery strategy in development for Redside dace, a buffer of the meander belt plus 30-metres on either side of the wetted width of the watercourse is required. Buffers are applied to reaches of permanent and intermittent watercourses where habitat for Redside dace occurs or has been known to occur historically.d) Wetlands >/= 0.5 ha:Existing wetlands in CLOCA watersheds occasionally fall short of the 10%/watershed target suggested in Environment Canada‟s “How Much Habitat is Enough?” AOC Guidelines of 10%/watershed. The guidelines also recommend restoration of wetland habitat to mirror historical percentages. As such, it has been determined that all wetlands are valued and should be considered in the development of the FNHS. Since ELC at the Community Series level of detail identifies 0.5 ha polygons as the smallest units mappable, 0.5 ha is the smallest wetland considered for incorporation into the FNHS. e) Woodlands >/= 0.5 ha:Existing woodlands in CLOCA watersheds generally fall short of targets suggested in Environment Canada‟s “How Much Habitat is Enough?” AOC Guidelines of 30%/watershed. As such, it has been determined that all woodlands are valued and should be considered in the development of the FNHS. Since ELC at the Community Series level of detail identifies 0.5 ha polygons as the smallest units mappable, 0.5 ha is the smallest woodland considered for incorporation into the FNHS.f) Provincially Significant Wetlands (PSWs):PSWs have been designated by the Ministry of Natural Resources and are protected features under provincial policies including the Provincial Policy Statement, The Oak Ridges Moranine Conservation Plan and the Greenbelt Plan. While already protected by policy, PSWs are also important biological features and therefore warrant inclusion into the FNHS mapping.g) Areas of Natural and Scientific Interest (ANSIs):ANSIs have been designated by the Ministry of Natural Resources and are protected features under provincial policies including the Provincial Policy Statement, The Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan and the Greenbelt Plan. While already protected by policy, ANSIs are also important biological and physiographical features and therefore warrant inclusion into the FNHS mapping.