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Summary List

Executive Summary

The Region of Peel State of the Environment: Land Report represents the final report in a series of three reports prepared to fulfill the state of the environment reporting direction of the Corporate Strategic Plan. The objective of this report is to establish baseline conditions for natural areas, biota, natural resources and stresses on the land in Peel Region, in order to provide the basis on which to determine if conditions are improving or deteriorating.

The organization of Peel's State of the Environment: Land Report reflects the transition from a broad to a narrow definition of the land environment in Peel. The report begins by outlining the settlement history and the landform character of the Region as a context for the remainder of the report. The chapter entitled Natural Areas examines the state of wetlands, woodlands, Environmentally Significant Areas (ESAs) and Areas of Natural and Scientific Interest (ANSIs) in the Region. The following chapter on biota addresses the condition of flora and fauna, and identifies species of interest for future monitoring. The chapter entitled Stress on the Land discusses the implications of urbanization, soil contamination, and waste management on the land environment of Peel. The chapter entitled Natural Resources examines the agricultural land and mineral aggregate resources of the Region. The final chapter summarizes the findings of the report.

Natural Areas Biota Stress on the Land Natural Resources Conclusion
Natural Areas
Wetlands
Woodlands
Environmentally Significant Areas (ESAs)
Areas of Natural and Scientific Interest (ANSIs)

Biota
Plants
Birds
Mammals
Herptiles

Stress on the Land
Urbanization

Soil Contamination
Urban Pesticide Use
Solid Waste Management
Natural Resources
Agricultural Resources
Mineral Aggregate Resources
Conclusion
Report Findings


Natural Areas

A functional or ecosystem approach to environmental planning recognizes that natural features and areas must be viewed as components of a larger, more complex system. These natural features and areas are recognized as providing ecological functions that are essential to the maintenance of the natural environment in a healthy state.

Components of the natural environment can be defined according to landform, land cover, ecological function, wildlife habitat, and numerous other criteria. Natural area categories that are commonly used include wetlands and woodlands. Natural areas are also identified according to defined criteria, such as ESAs and ANSIs.

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Wetlands
Wetlands are areas that are seasonally or permanently covered by shallow water, or areas where the water table is close to the surface. These areas are now understood to be amongst the most biologically diverse habitats on earth. Wetlands also perform vital ecological functions necessary to the health of the natural environment. These functions include the maintenance of water supply through groundwater recharge and discharge, and the preservation of water quality through the filtering of sediment and the trapping of contaminants.

It is estimated that wetlands covered over 11 percent of the land area of Peel Region prior to European settlement. By 1967 almost 60 percent of this wetland area had been lost. Most of the loss can be attributed to the clearing of the land for agriculture prior to the turn of the century.

Today, wetlands represent 3-4 percent of the total land area of the Region. This includes 38 wetlands that have been evaluated according to provincial criteria. Fifteen of these wetlands have been evaluated as provincially significant, and the remainder as locally significant.

All but 4 of the provincially significant wetlands are located in the Town of Caledon. The four provincially significant wetlands outside of Caledon are the Rattray Marsh, Creditview Wetland and Credit River Marshes in Mississauga, and the Heart Lake Wetland in Brampton.

There are 3,336 hectares of wetland in Peel Region today. This represents a 37 percent loss since the 1982 estimate of wetland area. Recently, 3 unevaluated wetlands totalling 18 hectares were evaluated and added to the inventory of Peel Region wetlands. This included the provincially significant Credit River Marshes, and the Turtle Creek Reed Swamp that was complexed with the Rattray Marsh.

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Woodlands
Woodlands have been defined as treed areas that provide environmental and economic benefits such as erosion prevention, water retention, the provision of wildlife habitat, recreation and the sustainable development of wood products. Other ecological benefits of trees and woodland areas include climate moderation and pollution absorption.

Two forest zones, the Great Lakes St. Lawrence (Mixed) Forest and the Eastern Deciduous (Carolinian) Forest, intersect the Region of Peel. These two forest types result in a unique collection of plant and animal species in Peel.

The removal of woodlands for timber, agricultural land and urban development significantly decreased woodland coverage in Southern Ontario, the GTA and Peel Region. Within a 25-year period from 1961 to 1986, it is estimated that woodland coverage in south-western Ontario declined by 45 percent. Today the GTA remains approximately 20 percent forest covered, however woodlands are concentrated within the natural features of the Niagara Escarpment, Oak Ridges Moraine and major river valleys.

Today woodlands in Peel comprise approximately 17,976 hectares or almost 15 percent of the Region's total land area. As a percentage of the total land area in each of the municipalities, woodlands cover approximately 3% of Mississauga, 5.5% of Brampton and 23% of Caledon. Therefore, according to provincial guidelines, woodlands of 2 hectares or greater in Mississauga, 4 hectares or greater in Brampton, and 40 hectares or greater in Caledon, should be identified as significant.

A size classification of Peel woodlands according to the criteria suggested by the province indicates that more than 1,000 of the 1,400 hectares remaining in Brampton, and virtually all of the 800 hectares remaining in Mississauga, should be considered significant. Two-thirds of the woodlands in Caledon also merit protection.

A large woodland area with a roughly circular shape will possess a good forest edge/interior ratio. Such an area should be considered significant because it is likely to possess enough forest interior to provide suitable habitat for wildlife species that require buffering from human activity.

A buffer analysis of the Peel woodland inventory indicates that only 22 % of the total woodland area of Peel is situated 100 metres or more from the forest edge. Based upon this buffer distance there are only 42 ha of forest interior woodland remaining in Brampton and 110 ha in Mississauga.

Although woodland indicators are important, consistency with an ecosystem approach necessitates the monitoring of woodlands in relation to other components of the natural environment. The ecological value of a woodland is enhanced if it contains or is combined with a natural feature such as a wetland. Swamps are forested wetlands that also qualify as woodland areas.

A proximity analysis of Peel Region wetlands and woodlands revealed that 3,848 ha or 21% of woodlands in Peel completely contain wetland areas. An additional 9,935 ha of woodland area is immediately adjacent to wetlands. Therefore, over three-quarters of Peel woodland areas are enhanced by integration with wetland areas.

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Environmentally Significant Areas (ESAs)
The two conservation authorities with jurisdiction within Peel Region undertake to identify what are known as Environmentally Significant Areas (ESAs). The special features or functions that may result in the recognition of a natural area as an ESA include rare plant and animal populations or habitats, or concentrations of important ecological functions.

A basic ESA-related environmental indicator is the number and area of ESAs in Peel Region. If the original ESAs identified by each conservation authority are compared to the most recent ESA information, Peel has experienced a net gain of four ESAs and over 1,300 hectares of additional ESA area. However, the gain occurred only in the Town of Caledon. Mississauga actually lost three ESAs, and one of only two ESAs in Brampton was reduced in size due to development impacts.

The proportion of Peel land area identified as ESAs grew from 5.4 to 6.5 percent. The proportion of Caledon land area identified as ESAs rose from 8.6 to 10.6 percent. While a greater proportion of the significant natural areas of Peel have been identified, development impacts continue to threaten the survival of ESAs in Peel Region.

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Areas of Natural and Scientific Interest (ANSIs)
In addition to wetlands and woodlands, the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) identifies Areas of Natural and Scientific Interest (ANSIs) throughout the province. The principle behind the recognition of ANSIs is that protecting the most significant natural features is crucial to maintaining biodiversity, and the conservation of natural heritage.

There are two types of ANSIs: life science and earth science. Life Science or biological ANSIs are significant representative segments of Ontario's biodiversity and natural landscapes. These segments include specific types of forests, valleys, prairies, and wetlands, and associated native plants and animals. Earth Science or geological ANSIs are comprised of some of the most significant representative examples of the bedrock, fossil, and landform record of Ontario, and include examples of ongoing geological processes.

The MNR has confirmed ANSI status for 33 locations in Peel Region. Sixteen sites are identified as Life Science ANSIs, 7 of which are considered to have provincial significance. The 17 remaining ANSIs in Peel are classified as Earth Science ANSIs. Seven of these sites are considered provincially significant.


Biota

The natural environment is commonly divided into the three basic components of: atmosphere, land, and water. However, it is also important to consider the plants and animals that inhabit the air, water, and land, and are an inseparable part of the natural environment.

As an indicator of environmental health, species diversity is often used to determine baseline and trend conditions. In general, the greater the diversity of flora and fauna, the healthier the environment which they inhabit. In contrast, a decline in the diversity of plants and animals is an indication of an ecosystem under stress.

Since European settlement, there has been a decline in native plant and animal species in the Greater Toronto Area. This decrease can be attributed to hunting, the loss and degradation of wildlife habitat, the introduction of non-native species, and pollution.

Habitat loss is perhaps the most important factor affecting the abundance and diversity of plant and animal species in Peel. The loss or fragmentation of natural areas and corridors adversely effects the interaction that contributes to the biodiversity and adaptability of biota.

Among the list of natural heritage features and areas identified in the Provincial Policy Statement (1996), is significant portions of the habitat of endangered and threatened species. In general, "significant portions" refers to the area of land and water that is necessary to: a) ensure the survival of existing populations, and b) permit population stabilization, growth or enhancement (MNR, 1997). The protection of endangered and threatened species, and their habitats, is considered necessary in provincial policy, in order to slow or prevent the loss of the species from the province, and sometimes prevent global extinction.

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Plants
None of the plant species listed as endangered by the province can be found in the portion of the Credit watershed within Peel Region. However, the ginseng plant, which is listed as a threatened species, is found in a number of locations in the watershed. Also, Hill's Pondweed is a provincially vulnerable plant species found in the Credit watershed.

The report contains a summary list of vascular plant species that are rare on a national, provincial, regional, or watershed level, derived from the Credit Watershed Natural Heritage Project of the CVC. Not surprisingly, many of the plants listed are best suited to wetland, waters edge or prairie habitats. These areas are the most susceptible to human impact, and make up a small percentage of the total land area of Peel Region.

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Birds
In Ontario, nine bird species are presently listed as "endangered", due to risk of extinction caused by loss of habitat, disease, and chemical pollution. Five of these bird species can be found in the Humber River and/or Credit River watersheds within Peel Region.

The two raptors, the bald eagle and golden eagle are migratory birds. The Henslow's sparrow breeds in moist grasslands, and the Loggerhead shrike breeds near hawthorn bushes. Both of these habitats are disappearing. The peregrine falcon is beginning a comeback, with human assistance, and has been observed in the Credit River watershed.

The nationally endangered Acadian flycatcher, and Prothonatory warbler can be found in Peel Region. Of the birds on the provincial list of "threatened" species, the Hooded warbler has been observed in Peel. Nine of the 11 provincially "vulnerable" species can also be found in the Region.

The report contains a summary list of bird species synthesized from data provided by CVC and published TRCA information. The data will be utilized in future reports to monitor the success of policies to protect these species and their associated habitat.

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Mammals
Large mammals usually require forest interior habitat, and a wide habitat range, and so they survive only in areas with large, connected woodlands. Therefore, forest clearing for agricultural purposes upon European settlement, contributed greatly to the decline of mammal species in Peel Region.

Species that inhabited the forests of the Humber and Credit watersheds only 200 years ago have been extirpated. The number of beavers and deer have increased in recent years, due to adaptation to urban environments, and regulations on hunting and trapping.

A summary list of mammal species found in Peel Region was synthesized from published TRCA information, and the CVC "Species of Interest" Project. The Smokey shrew and Northern long-eared (Keen's) bat are mammal species recognized as provincially significant by the TRCA. The list is included in the main report.

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Herptiles
Amphibians and reptiles together form a broader species category known as herptiles. This group inhabits both aquatic and terrestrial habitats. Herptiles possess limited ranges of habitat adaptability and physical mobility, and are very vulnerable to degradation or loss of their habitat. They are viewed as early warning indicators of the health of an ecosystem, therefore it is important to include them in this report.

Information on herptiles was available from TRCA (1995). The eastern hog-nosed snake and the wood turtle are listed as "vulnerable" by the MNR. The Jefferson salamander is designated as "provincially significant" by the TRCA. The Pickerel frog, which was once common, is now listed as "regionally rare" by the TRCA.


Stress on the Land

The state of the environment of an area is influenced by the way in which it is able to accommodate a growing population. People need places of residence, employment, recreation and leisure. They require water, food and electricity in order to survive. They generate sewage and garbage. This chapter of the report examines the natural environment from the perspective of the stress placed upon it by human activities.

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Urbanization
Urbanization is the result of population growth. The 1996 population of Peel Region was just over 850,000 people. Population forecasts for the Region anticipate that the population will grow at an annual rate of 2 percent reaching 1.2 million people by the year 2011. The growth rate is expected to decline to less than one percent after 2011 resulting in a population of more than 1.3 million by 2021.

The most obvious impact of urbanization is the consumption of land for urban uses. The rate at which land is consumed is dependent upon the density of population reached within the subject area.

Based upon the 1996 population of the Region, the average population density of Peel was 2,126 people per square kilometre. This figure is based upon the entire urban land area of the Region, and does not include the rural area, conservation areas or provincial parks.

To accommodate the projected 2021 population the average population density of the Region must increase to more than 2,400 people per square kilometre. In proposed residential areas it is estimated that the population density would have to exceed 4,400 people per square kilometre in order to accommodate the projected 2021 population.

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Soil Contamination
The consequence of past and present industrial activity and associated waste disposal is the prospect of soil contamination problems. Pollutants such as organic compounds and heavy metals can remain in the ground for years after an activity has ended. Soil contamination can also occur as the result of improper storage and transportation of hazardous materials, or the management and disposal of waste.

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Spills to the Environment
The Environmental Protection Act of Ontario (1990) defines a spill as "a discharge into the natural environment, from or out of a structure, vehicle, or other container, and that is abnormal in quantity or quality in light of all the circumstances of the discharge" (MOEE, 1995). If a spill causes or is likely to cause a detrimental effect, it must be reported to the Ministry of the Environment (MOE), and the regional municipality in which the spill has occurred. The Region of Peel operates a 24-hour Spills Response Program to handle all reports of spills to the environment.

The total spills for Peel Region increased steadily from 165 in 1990 to 335 in 1996. The population of Peel has grown by more than a quarter of a million people over the same period, and so a corresponding increase in the number of spills is not surprising. However, it is important to note that the number of spills in 1997 dropped dramatically in comparison to previous years.

The number of spills per 1,000 population can provide an indication of the trend in spills independent of population growth. This indicator has increased from 0.26 to 0.39 spills per 1,000 population between 1991 and 1996. The increase suggests that the number of spills may be growing at a faster rate than the population. However, it may simply reflect an increase in the number of spills reported.

The reported spills are also classified according to the medium that received the spill, land, air, water or a combination of mediums. In Peel Region, between 68 and 82 percent of spills are to the land, followed by land and water together, water, and air.

The MOE data also contained information that approximately 60 percent of Peel Region spills during the 1990-96 period had a possible or confirmed environmental impact. In 1997, the proportion of spills with possible or confirmed environmental impact was at its lowest since 1990. The nature of the environmental impact for the greatest number of spills was soil contamination or surface water pollution. Spills impacting human health or safety accounted for only 2 percent of total spills.

As was the case for the province as a whole, the transportation, petroleum, general manufacturing, and chemical industry sectors were among the most common sources of spills in Peel Region. These sectors combined were responsible for 48 percent of the spills during the 1990-97 period. The three levels of government combined were responsible for 13 percent of the spills, and Peel residents for 7 percent of the spills, during that period.

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Contaminated Sites in Peel
As noted previously, the potential result of historical and current industrial activity is soil contamination. There are numerous sites throughout the province of Ontario that may be contaminated. The Waste Management Division of the Peel Public Works Department seeks to maintain up-to-date records, based on data provided by the MOE.
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Programs/Responses
The Region of Peel responds to the environmental issues outlined above in a number of ways. Initiatives include a Spills Response Program, and the regular monitoring of Regionally operated landfill sites for evidence of soil or water contamination, and the escape of landfill gases.

The Region of Peel maintains a 24-hour response capability for spills to the environment. A Duty Spills Coordinator attends all reported spills to ensure that a total clean-up of the pollutants has been completed.

The Region presently undertakes a surface water and groundwater monitoring program at the following landfill sites: Albion, Britannia, Caledon, Chinguacousy, Newman, North Sheridan, Centre St, Centennial Park, Port Credit Memorial Park, Erindale Park and Streetsville. Samples are collected regularly, and the data is reviewed and presented in a monitoring report every two years by a consultant.

Peel Public Works also undertakes a gas monitoring program at the two currently operating landfill sites: Britannia and Caledon. Six of the 20 inactive landfill sites also require monitoring or control of gas migration. These sites are: Newman, North Sheridan, Centennial Park, Port Credit Library, Professor's Lake and Mavis Yard.

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Urban Pesticide Use
In the urban environment, the use of fertilizers and pesticides is widespread on both privately and publicly owned land. However, information on the quantity of fertilizer and pesticides applied to the land in Peel Region was not available. A survey completed for the entire province estimates that the use of pesticides by licensed applicators for 1993 was over 1.3 million kilograms.

The survey also collects information on the type of land to which the pesticide was applied. In urban areas, pesticides are predominantly applied to residential lawns. Municipal governments and the provincial transportation ministry also use a significant amount of pesticides in the maintenance of roadsides and in public parks.

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Solid Waste Management
The residents and businesses of Peel Region generate large volumes of waste that must be collected and disposed of properly. The waste management policies developed by the Region establish an integrated solid waste management system, which is environmentally sound and economically viable.

Of the solid waste generated within Peel Region requiring disposal, an estimated annual average of over 300,000 tonnes of waste (or half of total waste requiring disposal) from the business sector is exported outside the Region. Since 1993, the KMS Peel incinerator has disposed of an average of 97,000 tonnes of waste a year, representing about 15% of total solid waste generated. Virtually all of the remaining waste is disposed of in Regional sanitary landfill sites.

The progress toward greater diversion of waste from landfill or incineration can be evaluated in comparison to the Ministry Of Environment guideline target level of waste diversion. Municipalities were encouraged to reduce solid waste going to landfill 25% by 1992 and 50% by 2000, based upon 1987 levels. To date a maximum reduction of 34% has been achieved in Peel compared to the 1987 level. The proportion of waste diverted has remained almost the same since 1995 as the amount of waste diverted has been offset by an increase in waste generated.

In terms of waste generated by Peel residents, it is encouraging to see that the diversion rate noticeably improved from 24 to 28% over the 1996-97 period. This rate represented over 90,000 tonnes of waste, or over one-quarter of total residential waste generated. The indicator of average residential waste per capita has also shown a decrease. Between 1991 and 1996, the average waste requiring disposal per person dropped from 0.33 to 0.29 tonnes. This represents a drop of 45 kilograms of waste per person per year. The Peel Region programs that facilitate these rates of solid waste diversion are outlined in section 4.5 of the report.

The Long-Term Waste Management Strategy for Peel Region was completed in October, 1997. The primary objectives of the strategy include establishment and maintenance of an environmentally responsible and cost-effective system for managing solid waste, and promotion of the hierarchy of reduction, reuse, recycling. The strategy was chosen from 5 possible scenarios. It consisted of a number of system components, including:

  • use of the Britannia landfill site to its approved capacity;
  • utilization of new energy from waste (EFW) capacity at the Peel incinerator;
  • 6 Community Recycling Centres to be phased in one every two years;
  • encouragement of the use of new technologies; and
  • a phased in user pay system, beginning in 2001.

The key indicator of the strategy is the target of a 70 percent diversion of waste from landfill by 2016. A significant part of the strategy is that no provision is made for new landfill sites. Therefore, alternative disposal or diversion methods must be utilized in order to manage future solid waste in Peel Region.


Natural Resources

The natural environment in Peel is actively utilized to support many economic activities. In particular, the geological formations and soil of the Region are essential inputs to the construction industry and the farming community. The Regional Corporate Strategic Plan "Beyond 2000" recognizes that there must be a balance between the use and protection of Peel's natural resources. The two principal land-related resources of the Region are agricultural and mineral aggregate resources.

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Agricultural Resources
Despite the fact that the Region of Peel continues to experience steady urbanization, agriculture remains an important economic activity and way of life. Peel total gross farm receipts increased from $44.8 million in 1981 to $75.6 million in 1991. Although inflation must be taken into account, this growth occurred during the strongest period of urbanization experienced by the Region.

Provincial policy regarding agricultural resources states that "prime agricultural areas" will be protected for agricultural use. The Canada Land Inventory (CLI) Soil Capability for Agriculture classification ranges from Class 1 to Class 7. A prime agricultural area is defined as an area that is predominantly Canada Land Inventory Class 1-3 land. Only 0.5% of Canada's land is designated as Class 1, and half of this land is located in southern Ontario.

At present, the majority of the land in the southern part of the Town of Caledon, as well as the land outside the urban area on the east and west sides of Brampton, is rated as Class 1 agricultural land. This general area includes almost all of the remaining land suitable for agriculture in the Region.

Since around the turn of the century, the amount of agricultural land has generally been in steady decline in Ontario, as urban areas expand and marginal farmland is abandoned to natural regeneration. Farmland is well suited to accommodate urban growth, as it is cleared of forest, level and well-drained. In addition, urban expansion and land speculation has impacted the economic viability of farming in many parts of the province, encouraging the continued decline in the number of farms.

Since 1976, the number of farms in Peel has dropped 35% compared to a 24% decline in Ontario as a whole. Peel has also experienced a 23% drop in the total area of farms since 1976, declining to 120,000 acres in 1996, compared to a 10% decline in Ontario over the same period.

During the rapid urban growth of the 1986-91 period, the total farm area of the City of Mississauga was reduced by more than 50 percent. Brampton experienced a 25% decline, while Caledon only suffered a less than 3% drop. In contrast, the 1991-96 period witnessed a dramatic increase of 2,300 acres and almost 4,000 acres in Brampton and Mississauga, respectively.

The explanation for this trend reversal is the fact that certain land developers are requesting that agriculture be temporarily permitted in commercial/industrial zones, in order to reduce their tax burden while waiting to develop the land.

The state of the agricultural community in Peel is further reflected in a study of rural farm population trends in the Region. During the 1976-96 period, the total and rural population of the Region grew at a significantly faster rate than Ontario as a whole. The rural population increase reflects the growth in estate residential areas and rural villages and hamlets.

In stark contrast, the Peel rural farm population decreased by more than 44% over the same period, in comparison to the 33% decline for Ontario as a whole. The growth of the rural population, and the decline of the rural farm population, was more moderate over the 1986-91 period in the Region.

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Environmental Issues in Agriculture
A number of areas of concern regarding the impact of farming practices on the natural environment have been identified over the years. However, many farmers themselves have also recognized these concerns and are making the changes necessary to improve the situation. Areas of concerns related to the land resource include: the soil, pesticide and fertilizer use, and natural features and wildlife.

Soil erosion by wind and water, undermines the productivity of the soil. Poor soil structure due to compaction by farm equipment reduces crop yields and assists erosion. Organic matter is crucial to the capability of the soil to store oxygen, water, and nutrients. Certain soil tillage methods reduce the organic matter content of the soil.

However, superior tillage techniques and crop rotation utilized by many of today's farmers improve the soil's organic content. In Ontario, conservation tillage increased 25 percent from 1991 to 1996, and no-till increased a dramatic 350 percent.

Pesticides are used to control crop and livestock pests. The health effects of pesticides may be the greatest for the farmers who work with them. However, there remains a more general risk through the contamination of food and water.

In Peel Region, the land area for which pesticides have been used has not decreased to match the decline in total farm area. The area for which the use of herbicides was reported declined from 1986-91, then increased from 1991-95. The area for which the use of insecticides and fungicides was reported increased 28% during the 1986-95 period, as total farm area declined 7.3 percent.

Fertilizer use can impact water quality, and nitrogen fertilizer can contribute to atmospheric greenhouse gases, through the release of nitrogen oxides. The reported area of fertilizer use in the Region declined between 1986 and 1991, then increased again in 1995.

Despite this situation, farmers are more educated about the proper use of these products and are making efforts to decrease the frequency of application and the amount used. This makes economic sense due to the fact that these products are costly inputs to the food production process. In fact, in the province as a whole there was a 28 percent decrease in the mass of pesticide active ingredient use over the 1983-93 period, while the area of application increased 3.7 percent.

Historically, the clearing of land for agriculture has been one of the principal causes of the loss of natural areas. More recently, the abandonment of marginal cropland has permitted some natural regeneration of these areas, as agriculture concentrates in core areas such as southwestern Ontario. Many farmers manage woodlots for the sale of timber and maple syrup. Surviving wetlands and woodlands provide essential habitat for wildlife.

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Programs/Responses
The Peel Corporate Strategic Plan directs the Region to exercise responsible stewardship of Peel's non-renewable resources, such as agricultural land. Regional Council has established a voluntary advisory committee known as the Peel Agricultural Advisory Working Group (PAAWG). Its overall goal is to assist the Region in its efforts to protect agricultural lands as a natural resource with major importance to the Regional economy, and support farmers and agricultural organizations as valuable contributors to the community and economy of Peel. The report also addresses the contribution of the Environmental Farm Plan program.

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Mineral Aggregate Resources
Mineral aggregate is a non-renewable resource that is an essential input to many forms of construction, including roads and buildings. Provincial policy terms it the "foundation" of the provincial economy. It can only be found in certain areas of the province and there are no current substitutes available in the quantity needed to meet demand, at a comparable cost.

Many areas of Ontario are experiencing a reduction in the availability of aggregates due to the depletion or inaccessibility of sources close to market. The result is increased cost due to the added transportation or processing costs, or the use of expensive substitutes.

It is clear that mineral aggregate resources are important from an economic standpoint, but there is the potential for considerable negative impact on the natural environment as the result of aggregate extraction. Direct impacts commonly mentioned by local residents are noise, dust, blast vibration, and visual intrusion.

In addition, there are direct impacts on the environment, which can then have an impact on humans. A major concern is the potential for impacts on groundwater as the result of excavation. Problems mentioned are increases in turbidity, depletion of the aquifer, and wash water (from the processing of the aggregate) entering the water table. Reduced groundwater recharge can adversely affect aquatic wildlife habitat.

There are also several significant potential impacts on land resources. Besides the loss of agricultural land, important natural features can be lost when the land is cleared for excavation. Loss of vegetation cover, as well as the ongoing operation itself, is likely to reduce the capability of the site to provide habitat for wildlife. It is these impacts that must be addressed in the site plan, through the governing legislation.

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Inventory/Profile
The Region of Peel has a long history of aggregate production. In the past, most of this production was consumed within the Region, to fuel growth and development. Currently, the Region is also a major supplier of aggregate to the western G.T.A. market.

Annual aggregate production in Peel Region averaged almost 6.5 million tonnes during the 1974-86 period. Production increased to over 7.5 million tonnes in 1987, during the high growth period of the late 1980's. In contrast, the slower growth period of the early to mid 1990's has resulted in annual aggregate production totals of about 3.2 million tonnes. Demand for aggregate is projected to increase as the economy recovers, and this may already be reflected in the 1995 annual production figure, which exceeded 3.6 million tonnes.

In 1997, there were 21 pits and 7 quarries licensed under the Aggregate Resources Act, in Peel Region. This compares to 27 pits and 9 quarries in 1987. The total licensed area for aggregate extraction also decreased from 5,000 acres to approximately 4,300 acres, over the 1987-97 period.

Data obtained for 1997 revealed that the total area disturbed by aggregate extraction in Peel Region declined by only 57 acres over the 1987-97 period. The disturbed area figure represents all of the land currently impacted by extraction operations.

Current sand and gravel extractive activity is concentrated in the western half of Caledon in the glaciofluvial features known as the Caledon Outwash and the Orangeville Moraine. Some extraction has also taken place in the Albion Hills and the Caledon East meltwater channel. Seventeen of the 19 licensed pits are located in Caledon.

The total area presently occupied by sand and gravel in Peel is 35,623 hectares, containing total possible resources of 2829 million tonnes. Of this total resource area, 8% or 2,760 hectares has been selected for identification as potentially available for resource extraction.

The bedrock resources in the Region of Peel are covered in most areas by overburden, except along the Niagara Escarpment on the west side of the Town of Caledon. In 1995, there were 8 licensed quarries in Peel Region, but only four of these quarries were active. In Caledon, 3 quarries produce sandstone, known as Credit Valley Stone, for use in repair and restoration work. Areas of Queenston shale that are covered by less than 8 metres of overburden are also considered a provincially significant resource for the production of brick and tile.

Including the crushed stone resources in Caledon, the total area identified as bedrock resource amounts to 45% of the total land area of the Region. A significant part of this area is within the Niagara Escarpment protected area, or meets other constraint criteria, and is therefore not available for extraction. The selected bedrock resource in Peel that has been identified for possible resource protection covers 5.8% of the total land area of the Region.

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Programs/Responses
The objective of the Region to balance the use and protection of natural resources with the preservation of the natural environment has been outlined above. In addition to monitoring the inventory of protected natural features, perhaps one of the most important indicators is the success of rehabilitation efforts in areas of aggregate extraction within the Region.

Several sites within the Region demonstrate the potential of rehabilitation. Sites along the Brampton Esker have been rehabilitated into attractive parks, recreation areas, and residential developments, including Professor's Lake and Major Oaks Park. In rural areas, rehabilitation of sites is not as well documented. From available information, it was calculated that about 11.5 percent of the land disturbed by aggregate extraction in Peel is currently undergoing progressive rehabilitation.

At present, the Town of Caledon and the Region of Peel are undertaking an analysis of the mineral aggregate issue through the Caledon Community Resource Study. The study is examining the extent of the aggregate resource and its utilization, and the implications of its extraction on the natural environment. The study will provide useful information for monitoring the state of the environment in Peel, with regard to mineral aggregate resources. The final report is expected in the Spring of 1999.

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Conclusion

The purpose of this first Peel Region State of the Environment: Land Report is to establish baseline or benchmark data for use in the future monitoring and evaluation of the state of the land environment of the Region. The objectives of the report included the research and identification of appropriate data sources, and partnerships in the collection and evaluation of the data. In particular, the local conservation authorities and naturalist groups can provide valuable assistance in future reports.

Another important objective of the report was to develop and suggest a number of state of the land environment indicators as possible tools in the ongoing monitoring process. These indicators are contained throughout the main body of the report.

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Report Findings
Not surprisingly, the general impression of the state of the land environment in Peel Region is that the impacts of urbanization can be clearly observed. These impacts include the significant loss of natural areas and wildlife habitat such as wetlands and woodlands. They include the increase in spills to the environment and in solid and hazardous waste requiring disposal. They also include loss of agricultural land and the disturbance of landforms and natural areas for mineral aggregate extraction.

The purpose of the report was to identify changes over time, report on the status of the land environment in Peel Region, and indicate areas for additional monitoring and evaluation.

Information Gaps
The preparation of the Land Report presented certain difficulties not experienced in the preparation of the first two State of the Environment Reports. In contrast to the issues of air and water quality, data is not collected on a regular basis or in a consistent manner for many land environment issues. Therefore, there are a number of areas that should be considered as subjects of additional research and/or data collection for future reports. These areas are identified in the Conclusion chapter of the main report.

Corporate Objectives
Goal 3 of the Region's Strategic Plan Fast Forward Peel: Building a Strong Community Together directs the Region to "preserve, protect and enhance the Region's natural environment and resources." Research to assist in the protection of natural areas, stewardship of natural resources and sustainability of waste management is provided in detail in this State of the Environment: Land Report.

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