Eastern Georgian Bay Coast Natural Area
Stunning Georgian Bay landscape, Ontario (Photo by Ethan Meleg)
A unique coastal landscape
As captured in iconic paintings by the Group of Seven in the early 1900s, the Eastern Georgian Bay Coast is today an integral part of Ontario's cultural heritage. The area includes incredible views of the Canadian Shield, and is one of North America's most exquisite and distinctive landscapes.
The mainland coastline features rocky shores, deep cut bays, wetlands and cobble beaches. The coast is protected by the largest archipelago of freshwater islands in the world.
With a total coastal length of more than 5,300 kilometres, including mainland and islands, the Eastern Georgian Bay Coast features many attributes that are unique to the Great Lakes basin. This includes the greatest number of islands (more than two thirds of all islands in the basin), the longest coastline, the highest quality wetlands and the most extensive coastal rock barrens.
The high biodiversity values of this area make it a top conservation priority.
The coastal wetlands of the Eastern Georgian Bay Coast Natural Area, such as those found on Sandy Island, provide important habitat for colonial nesting waterbirds. They also have one of the highest densities of globally and nationally rare species and communities in Ontario.
The area also contains two Important Bird Areas. Migratory waterfowl, shorebirds and land birds concentrate along the coast in the spring and fall.
The coast shelters many vegetation communities, disjunct species and breeding birds. It also boasts the greatest diversity of viable reptile populations in Canada, and provides habitat for many at-risk snake and turtle species, and Ontario's only lizard, the five-lined skink.
Important amphibian populations, such as salamanders, frogs and toads, also live here. Wide-ranging species, such as black bear, fisher and eastern wolf, are also fairly common.
The coast contains a large variety of documented vegetation communities, disjunct species and breeding birds, and the greatest diversity of viable reptile populations in Canada, including many at-risk snake and turtle species and Ontario's only lizard, the five-lined skink.
Important amphibian populations, such as salamanders, frogs and toads also make their homes here. Wide-ranging and space-demanding species such as black bear, fisher and eastern wolf are relatively common as well.
Threats to these areas include incompatible development such as marinas and recreational homes, invasive species, water pollution and degradation, direct persecution of wildlife species and incompatible recreation such as the use of ATVs (all-terrain vehicles).
While there has been significant conservation of public lands within the area, many important places, particularly in southern regions, are not protected.
Georgian Bay Islands National Park was established in 1929. The park protects the unique features in the southern portion of the bay. The global significance of the area was recognized in 2004, when the Georgian Bay World Biosphere Reserve was established.
NCC has a long history of working with partners in the Eastern Georgian Bay Coast. This includes Parks Canada, the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and the Georgian Bay Land Trust, under the Georgian Bay Joint Venture program. Through innovative partnerships, some of the most remarkable areas of the Eastern Georgian Bay Coast are now protected for future generations of people, as well as the security of wildlife that live here.