Business in Oxford Planning and Development Official Plan Oxford Natural Heritage

Oxford Natural Heritage

Oxford County has an extensive natural heritage system and contains many important natural heritage features and areas including woodlands, wetlands, valley lands, meadows and watercourses.

These natural heritage resources provide many values to society including:

  • Purification of the air and groundwater
  • Habitat for wild plants and animals
  • Erosion protection
  • Recreational opportunities

Like any asset, wise management is the key to sustainability.


There are a broad range of policies, regulations, programs and other initiatives that have been established by various levels of government, conservation authorities (e.g. Upper Thames River, Grand River, Long Point Region, Catfish Creek) and other public and private organizations to protect and enhance natural heritage in the County. Some examples of Oxford specific initiatives include:

Oxford Natural Heritage Study

heritage study

In August 2016, the County released a draft Oxford Natural Heritage System Study (ONHSS). The study identifies the County’s ‘ecologically important’ natural heritage features and areas and the broader natural heritage system using up to date information and ecological science and provides recommendations on various measures to protect, restore, and where possible, improve the system and its component features and areas.

The ONHSS found that approximately 34,000 hectares, or 16.7%, of the County’s land area is covered by natural vegetation, of which approximately 80.5% was determined to be ‘ecologically important’. The County’s total percentage of natural vegetation cover is comprised of 13.2% woodlands, 2.9% meadows and/or thickets, and 0.6% water features, with approximately 6.7% also identified as wetlands (overlap with other natural features).
The ONHSS builds on the previous 2006 Oxford Natural Heritage System Study.

 Oxford Natural Heritage Study, 2016

About Community Planning

Community Planning involves reviewing development proposals and using planning tools to help balance social and economic interests while preserving and protecting the natural assets of our community.

Contact Us

Oxford County
21 Reeve Street, P.O. Box 1614
Woodstock, Ontario, N4S 7Y3
Fax: 519-537-1053