Taking the Ontario Wetland Evaluation System Course

Who can take the course

The course is open to the Ontario Public Service, conservation authorities, municipalities, consultants, environmental groups and others. Priority is given to those responsible for undertaking, interpreting, reviewing or approving Ontario Wetland Evaluation System evaluations.

Prior to the course, trainees should understand wetland ecology, wetland functions, plant identification and the use of field guides and keys. A basic understanding of geographic information systems is also recommended.

Wetland Evaluation System

The wetland evaluation system was created to inform Ontario’s land use planning process.

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry evaluates wetlands to help municipalities, conservation authorities and others with land use planning. The ministry provides manuals describing how wetlands are evaluated and offers annual training for professionals wishing to become qualified wetland evaluators.

Under the Planning Act, the Provincial Policy Statement protects significant wetlands from development and site alteration.

Learn more: Provincial Policy Statement

Who uses the system

The Wetland Evaluation System is used primarily by:

  • municipal governments as part of the planning process
  • the Ontario government to develop and implement policy, legislation and incentive and stewardship programs
  • conservation authorities that regulate wetlands under the Conservation Authorities Act
  • conservation organizations

Evaluation process

The wetland evaluation process defines, identifies and measures wetland functions and values.

Wetlands are assessed based on their perceived values in maintaining natural processes (ecosystem values). They are also assessed on the benefits provided to society (human utility values).

Ecosystem values

Ecosystem values include:

  • groundwater storage and release
  • provision of habitat for wildlife species, including species at risk
  • ecosystem productivity and biological diversity

Human utility values

Human utility values include:

  • flood damage prevention
  • harvestable product provision
  • improved water quality
  • recreational opportunities

The system ranks wetlands relative to one another.

Wetlands can only be evaluated by trained evaluators. The evaluations must be submitted to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry for review and approval.