Herb Kebbel Wetland near Sparta

Herb Kebbel Wetland near Sparta, Ontario/
David McLachlan


The Ontario Eastern Habitat Joint Venture (ON-EHJV) of the North American Waterfowl Management Plan (NAWMP) is a collaborative partnership of government and non-governmental partners coordinated by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Foresty and the Environment and Climate Change Canada, Canadian Wildlife Service – Ontario Region. The ON-EHJV focusses on the conservation of migratory bird habitat, particularly wetlands and associated upland habitats. Partners of the ON-EHJV receive funding from numerous sources including the U.S. North American Wetlands Conservation Act, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Environment and Climate Change Canada and Wildlife Habitat Canada.


While waterfowl habitat conservation remains a high priority for the ON-EHJV, efforts are also planned for protecting the habitat of shorebirds, waterbirds and landbirds as identified under the North American Bird Conservation Initiative (NABCI). Specific conservation actions for all-bird habitat conservation will be implemented once Ontario’s Bird Conservation Region strategies are completed and resources become available.

  • protect and restore the ecological integrity and biological function of high-quality habitats in order to maintain and/or increase the populations of native waterfowl and other birds
  • promote ecologically sound and sustainable landscape uses that meet the needs of birds, other wildlife and people
  • promote and strengthen linkages among other habitat and species joint ventures, government agencies, nongovernmental organizations, industry, landowners and individuals for the benefit of habitat conservation


Since 1989, over $158 million has been invested in the ON-EHJV to conserve and increase the productivity of NAWMP priority wetland sites. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and many U.S. state governments in the Atlantic and Mississippi Flyways, along with numerous organizations, associations, businesses and landowners, have made significant financial or in-kind contributions in support of the goals of the ON-EHJV

Habitat Protection and Restoration

Since 1989, partners have implemented habitat retention activities resulting in the protection of over
400,000 hectares of wetland and associated upland habitat in Ontario. During this same time period,
over 190,000 hectares of degraded wetlands have been improved and restored throughout the Province.

Wetland Policy

The primary tool for wetland protection in Ontario is the Provincial Policy Statement 2014 (PPS), authorized under the Planning Act, which prohibits development in significant wetlands depending on their geographic location in the Province. Updates to the PPS in 2014 have resulted in increased consideration for Great Lakes coastal wetlands during the land-use planning process. Wetlands are also protected by conservation authority regulations that can prohibit or require permits for activities that may cause interference with a wetland. Wetlands are protected within landscape-level land use legislation and plans (e.g., Niagara Escarpment, Oak Ridges Moraine, etc). Significant wetlands are also considered and protected under legislation guiding specific natural resource activities, such as renewable energy and forest management.

Project Examples

Matchedash Bay


Matchedash Bay is located at the south-easterly corner of Georgian Bay, Ontario. In the 1980s, it had extensive areas of dense cattail marsh and contained both deep water and seasonally flooded areas. It was an important staging area for waterfowl, shorebirds and landbirds that relied on it as a migration corridor. The area also provided habitat for a wide range of fish, amphibians and reptiles and over 500 species of vascular plants. Much of Matchedash Bay was identified as either provincially significant wetlands or as an Area of Natural and Scientific Interest. It is now also an Important Bird Area. Despite its obvious importance to biodiversity, Matchedash Bay was being eyed for development – marinas, housing and other activities not compatible with wetland conservation were being planned.

Matchedash Bay, Ontario/©Ducks Unlimited Canada

In 1988, Matchedash Bay was given top priority by the ON-EHJV for preservation, habitat restoration and management as a North American Waterfowl Management Plan flagship project. The objective was to protect existing wetland and natural heritage features of the area and augment them with strategic restoration and long-term management for waterfowl, fish and other wildlife while providing water and soil conservation benefits to area landowners.


  • secure and manage over 1,700 hectares of wildlife habitat
  • restore and develop 1,427 hectares of habitat for waterfowl and other wetland-dependent species
  • increase waterfowl production by maintaining and enhancing 442 hectares of waterfowl-staging habitat

Green-winged Teal/©Ducks Unlimited Canada

Today, the Marl Lake Tiny Matchedash (MTM) Conservation Association, formed in 1996, with its partner organizations Ducks Unlimited Canada and the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, implements an annual program of biological inventory and monitoring, management of three provincial wildlife areas, controlled hunting, outdoor recreation and education. Matchedash Bay is now home to some of the best birding, photography, botany, hunting, fishing, trapping, canoeing and boating in Ontario.


Atocas Bay, Ontario/©Ducks Unlimited Canada

The Atocas Bay Project, located east of Ottawa, Ontario exemplifies a piece of the Prairie Pothole Region in Eastern Ontario. The project included the restoration of some 250 wetlands on 800 hectares and upland habitat management for increased biodiversity. Serving as a demonstration site, ON-EHJV partners now use the property to show local agricultural producers how agriculture and wildlife conservation are complementary. Atocas Bay now provides healthy habitat for several species at risk such as Bobolinks, Meadowlarks and Short-eared owls.


Atocas Bay sign unveiling ceremony, 2004/
Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources

For more information about the ON-EHJV, see the Ontario Eastern Habitat Joint Venture Five-Year Implementation Plan 2006 – 2010 and the Ontario Eastern Habitat Joint Venture Progress Report 2005 – 2006


Melissa Rose

ON-EHJV Coordinator
Biodiversity Policy Section, Biodiversity Branch
Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry

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