Niagara Escarpment

The Niagara Escarpment Biosphere Reserve in Ontario stretches 725 km from Lake Ontario (near Niagara Falls) to the tip of the Bruce Peninsula (between Georgian Bay and Lake Huron). The Escarpment corridor crosses two major biomes: boreal needle leaf forests in the north and temperate broadleaf forest in the south. It also includes wetland complexes, cliff faces, slopes and aquatic ecosystems.


Designation Date: February 1990
Surface Area: 190,270 ha
Administrative Divisions: Canada, Province of Ontario; 8 Regions /
Cities; 21 Local Municipalities

Human Activities

  • Tourism & Recreation
  • Farming (tender fruit in south; mixed crops & beef towardnorth)
  • Grapes and wine
  • Aggregate extraction (sand, gravel & stone)
  • Forestry (furniture-grade & building-grade)  

Ecological Characteristics

Ordovician and Silurian Formation (420-445 million yearsBC); Sedimentary rocks: Limestones, dolostones, shales, sandstones. Maximum average temperature, warmest month: 29.9 C; Minimum average temperature, coldest month -7.1 C; Mean annual precipitation 818.5 mm (13%as snow). North-south corridor crossing two major ecological regions. In south, Carolinian life zone is one of the Most biologically diverse regions in Canada with 40% of province’s rare vascular plants.

In north, Great-Lakes – St. Lawrence forest: sugar maple, beech & hemlock. Further north, harsher with occasional sub-arctic flora and globally rare alvar habitat. Caves, valleys, cliffs, and crevasses, waterfalls and seeps provide a variety of microclimates along vertical gradients, optimal for old growth cedars and ferns. More than 300 bird species, 55 mammals, 36 reptiles and amphibians, 90 fish and 100 varieties of special interest flora (including 37 types of wild orchids). Head waters recharge area for several major river systems.

Protection Classifications

  • Provincial Legislation and Land-use Plan and Regulation administered by government-mandated Niagara Escarpment Commission (1985);
  • Two National Parks;
  • 129 Provincialand Municipal Parks;
  • Provincial Greenbelt – FoodlandConservation Plan;
  • 8 watershed-based Conservation Authorities.
    Core = 32.5% Buffer = 60 %
    Zone of Cooperation = 7.5 %

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                                                                            Last update: May 2014

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