Oxford County has a natural heritage system made up of important natural features and areas such as woodlands, wetlands, valleylands, meadows and watercourses. These features and areas provide important environmental (ecological, geological, and hydrological), social and economic benefits including:

  • Providing habitat for wild plants and animals
  • Providing spaces for recreation and enjoyment of nature
  • Filtering pollution and sediments from the air and water
  • Reducing storm water run-off, flooding and erosion
  • Reducing greenhouse gas emissions by storing carbon dioxide
  • Contributing to the local economy  (e.g. forestry, maple products and tourism)
  • Increasing crop yield by improving soil heath and growing conditions.

The Oxford Natural Heritage System Study (ONHSS) provides more detailed information about the County’s natural heritage system and the ecologically important natural features and areas within the system and how they were identified.

Like any asset, wise management of our natural environment is the key to sustainability.  Oxford County is committed to protecting and enhancing the natural environment in Oxford through involvement in a number of programs and initiatives, including:


Want to learn more about updating the environmental policies in the Official Plan and the 2023 update to the Oxford Natural Heritage System Study (ONHSS)?

Head on over to the project page on
Speak Up Oxford 
to learn more!

Oxford Natural 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