Natural Heritage System

Northumberland County has developed a Natural Heritage System Plan to manage community growth in a way that preserves and enhances our natural environment for future generations. An Enhanced Natural Heritage System was endorsed by County Council at the July 22, 2020 meeting of Council. Staff will now initiate an Official Plan amendment and arrange for a public meeting to incorporate the preferred Natural heritage System mapping and policies into the County Official Plan update.

Required by the province, this plan includes areas such as wetlands, woodlands and watercourses that have been identified as significant natural features that we must protect and enhance.

To receive a digital copy of the final report, background report, or draft rationale/criteria/options report, please submit a request using our Document Request Form.

What does this mean?

The Natural Heritage System Plan will result in updates to the Northumberland County Official Plan policies, including:

  • Establishing a new Natural Heritage Area designation that will apply to properties with key natural heritage features
  • Identification of key natural heritage features, as well as supporting features and areas that would be subject to development prohibitions and/or restrictions
  • Introduction of new policies affecting development and site alteration in and adjacent to the Natural Heritage System
  • Updates to the requirements for environmental impact studies

What areas of Northumberland will be included in the plan?

Based on the minimum requirements identified by the province, and input gathered from the public during initial consultations, the County developed three options for a Northumberland Natural Heritage System:

  • Option 1 – Basic
  • Option 2 - Comprehensive
  • Option 3 - Enhanced

Each option builds upon the previous option, providing additional connectivity and identifying more key natural heritage features. The Basic option achieves the minimum provincial requirements while the Enhanced option is the most conservation-forward system being proposed.

Will the plan affect my property?

In follow-up to our initial two rounds of public consultation, the County has developed an online interactive map to demonstrate how each of the three options for a Natural Heritage System would be implemented in our community.

View the map 

Project timeline


November 2018 - first round of public consultations

  • Northumberland County Headquarters, Cobourg - November 26, 2018
  • Cramahe Township Municipal Office, Colborne - November 28, 2018
  • Clock Tower Cultural Centre, Campbellford - November 29, 2018

November/December 2019 - second round of public consultations

  • Cramahe Township Municipal Office, Colborne - November 21, 2019
  • Northumberland County Headquarters, Cobourg - December 2, 2019
  • Clock Tower Cultural Centre, Campbellford - December 3, 2019

January/February 2020

  • Interactive map and online form for gathering public input

July 2020

  • Completed final report

Next steps:

Spring/Summer 2020

  • Present the preferred Natural Heritage System option to Northumberland County Council on July 22, 2020
  • Initiate update to the Official Plan to implement the preferred Natural Heritage System option

Public consultation process

In November 2018, Northumberland County conducted the first round of public consultation sessions to gather input on natural features to be included in Northumberland County's Natural Heritage System Plan. 

This input was used to develop three Natural Heritage System options, which were presented to the public for feedback during our second round of public consultation sessions in November and December 2019.

In response to feedback received during these public consultation sessions, the County developed an online interactive map to demonstrate how each of the three options for a Natural Heritage System would be implemented in our community. This online public consultation period concluded February 21, 2020.