Relatively few recognized Greenlands features in central Ontario receive absolutely no protection at the Region or County level. For the most part, Level 4 protection relates to:
- small woodland areas on and off the Oak Ridges Moraine;
- woodlands on the Canadian Shield that are not otherwise identified as Provincially Significant Wetlands or Life Science ANSIs;
- cartographic (unevaluated) wetlands.
Woodlands and woodlots
Many of the larger woodlands in the study area have some protected status; only the smaller woodlots have none. In most cases, the distinction between partially protected and unprotected woodlands is made by municipalities on the basis of size of the forest unit. The following table provides examples of the minimum size a woodland must be to warrant some protection (usually partial):
Woodlands < 0.5 ha on the Oak Ridges Moraine
All municipalities subject to the ORMCP
Woodlands < 0.8 ha outside urban areas
City of Hamilton
Woodlands < 3 ha
Region of Peel
Woodlands < 4 ha on or off the Oak Ridges Moraine
Woodlots smaller than these have no policy protection. In rural areas, small isolated woodland patches are found scattered throughout a mosaic of agricultural fields. Because these woodlots lack protection, even in many GTA municipalities, they are viewed as future development land. On the other hand, these features may be the only Greenlands remaining on the rural landscape and, as such, are seen as strong candidates for protection by the local populace.
Cartographic (unevaluated) wetlands
Cartographic wetlands are wetlands that have been identified remotely through the interpretation of aerial photographs and mapped on Ontario Base Mapping. Most of the wetlands on the Canadian Shield are cartographic wetlands because they have never been evaluated using Ontario Wetland Evaluation System. Wetlands are so prevalent on the Canadian Shield that typically only the largest, most prominent and most easily accessible ones have been evaluated. Because these wetlands have no formal status they receive no policy protection.
There are many unevaluated wetlands found throughout the study area, particularly in its more northern reaches. Unevaluated wetlands not only lack any protective status under the PPS, they are also unrecognized in most Official Plans.