Species At Risk

Species Protection and Recovery Overview

The value of biodiversity

Biodiversity is the wide range of life forms and ecological systems that make up what we usually just call "nature." Protecting our biodiversity today means that future generations can continue to enjoy all our province has to offer.

Learn more about biodiversity

Read Ontario’s Biodiversity Strategy

Why protect species at risk?

Ontario boasts a diversity of wildlife, but some species may not be around for long if we don’t take steps to protect them. Different factors are to blame for species loss, many of which are related to human activity. Working together, we can reverse the rate of species decline in Ontario. We can do this by coming up with ways to manage human activity and reduce any negative impact it may have on certain species.

You don’t have to be a land developer, farmer, or scientist to get involved in species protection. All you have to be is someone who cares about the great Ontario outdoors.

Find out more about what you can do to help species at risk and protect Ontario’s biodiversity.

What is a recovery strategy?

Recovery strategies provide science-based recommendations to the ministry on the protection and recovery of Endangered and Threatened species. They are developed by individuals and agencies with expertise on the species, typically incorporating knowledge from the public and stakeholders. Strict timeframes apply for developing recovery strategies. The provincial government must ensure a recovery strategy has been prepared for an Endangered species within one year of it being listed on the Species at Risk in Ontario list. For a Threatened species the government has two years from the time it is listed to ensure a recovery strategy is prepared.

View all draft and final recovery strategies

What is a management plan?

After a species becomes classified as Special Concern the government must ensure a management plan is prepared for that species. Management plans provide information regarding the biology of the species and advice on the approaches for reducing threats to it. Time limits also apply for management plans, but are longer than those for recovery strategies. The ministry must ensure a management plan is prepared within five years of a Special Concern species being listed on the Species at Risk in Ontario list, unless a recovery strategy or management plan is required to be prepared for the species under the federal Species at Risk Act.

Learn more about management plans

What is a government response statement?

After the recovery strategy or management plan has been prepared, the ministry must publish a govenment response statement no more than nine months later. This statement outlines the government’s goal for the recovery of the species and summarizes the prioritized actions the government intends to take or support for the protection and recovery of the species. It is based on advice provided in the recovery strategy, social and economic factors, and input from stakeholders, other jurisdictions, Aboriginal communities and members of the public.

Within five years of publishing a government response statement, the ministry must review the progress made in protecting and recovering the species.

View all draft and final government response statements

How does habitat protection help species at risk?

Habitat loss is a major threat to many of Ontario’s species are at risk. The lack of suitable habitat causes many of the province’s species at risk populations to decline. Habitat protection is described in section 10 of the Endangered Species Act. Once listed as Endangered or Threatened, a species automatically receives habitat protection. That means that any damage to or destruction of the species’ habitat is against the law.

There are two types of habitat protection:
  • General habitat protection occurs as soon as a species becomes classified as Endangered or Threatened.
  • Regulated habitat protection begins once a habitat regulation for a specific species has been finalized.

Habitat regulations provide additional clarity by specifying particular characteristics that define species-specific habitat, such as physical boundaries and key features.

See all the habitat regulations developed to date

Learn more about how habitat protection works


You can find current notices about all proposed actions and activities related to species at risk protection and recovery. We want to hear what you think. More


Blanding turtle

Endangered Species Act

Learn the basics


Permits and other authorizations

The Endangered Species Act offers flexibility tools that try to balance species protection and human activity.

Mobile phone

Contact your local ministry office

Often the best source of local information on species at risk is your nearest ministry office. Call with your questions or concerns.