Environmentally Significant Areas

In London, 21 natural areas are currently designated Environmentally Significant Areas or ESAs. These areas exist within both agricultural and urban settings, on public and private property, and include wetlands, forests and meadows as well as valleylands and significant wildlife habitat. The City funds a contract with the Upper Thames River Conservation Authority (UTRCA) to manage over 750 hectares of public owed ESA land in London.

View London's Environmentally Significant Areas

Help preserve our natural environment

To help preserve the natural environment please adhere to the following rules when visiting London's ESAs:

  1. Please use the official access points indicated on the trail maps.
  2. Stay on the managed trails (marked with yellow blazes).
  3. All pets must be on leash (2 m/6 ft max).
  4. Do not disturb wildlife or pick or transplant flowers.
  5. Access is allowed from 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.
  6. Bicycles are not permitted in ESA's with the exception of asphalt or crushed gravel paths in Kilally Meadows and Medway Valley Heritage Forest.
  7. Keep the ESA's litter free. Please pick up after yourself.
  8. Fishing is permitted with a provincial fishing licence. No hunting is permitted.
Adopt an environmentally significant area

Environmentally Significant Areas (ESAs) have beautiful natural features and perform ecological functions that warrant their protection in a natural state. City-owned ESAs have a purpose and function distinct from City parks as governed by the Official Plan. The City, in partnership with the Upper Thames River Conservation Authority (UTRCA), manages our ESAs. Many existing Adopt-an-ESA groups are welcoming new members to participate in local stewardship.

Stewardship of your adopted ESA can include:

  • Litter clean-up along managed trails
  • Exotic / Invasive species removal
  • Tree and shrub planting
  • Observation and reporting of hazards
Accessible trails

Access to nature for all Londoners is provided in ESAs.  Many trails in ESAs are fully accessible and all boardwalks and signs in ESA are designed to meet accessibility standards as they are replaced. 

Fishing and paddling in London

All anglers between ages 18 and 64 must posses a valid fishing licence. People not in this age group do not require a licence, but have all the rights and responsibilities of people with a licence. Visitors from outside the province require a non-resident licence. 

Get a fishing licence

The Fish and Paddle Guide brochure:

The Fish and Paddle Guide is a brochure produced by Fanshawe College students enrolled in the GIS and Urban Planning School of Design. This guide is sponsored by Upper Thames River Conservation Authority, London Community Foundation, Tourism London, London’s Paddling Shop and Angling Sports Inc.

Pick up a copy of the brochure at these locations: 

  • Tourism London Welcome Centres – 696 Wellington Road & 391 Wellington Street
  • UTRCA Watershed Conservation Centre
  • London’s Paddling Shop - Nova Craft Canoe
  • Angling Sports
Rivers and creeks

London is located within two main watersheds: 

  • the Thames River watershed
  • the Kettle Creek watershed

These two main watershed areas can be subdivided further into subwatersheds which surround our local creeks and streams. Each subwatershed can be further analyzed by looking at the stormwater drainage system that leads all the way to your home and property. We are all connected to the river.

The Thames River water quality is sampled on a regular basis as part of a monitoring program at 10 locations.  Monitoring is also conducted on a number of creeks in the City of London on a monthly basis.

Water quality in the Thames River has improved significantly since river monitoring was initiated in 1963, but there is still work to do.  Residents can help by making sure that only rain goes down the drain outside, and our catchbasins stay free and clear of chemicals and waste. 

Learn more about London and the Thames River


Report a coyote sighting 

Coyote sightings are common within and around natural areas within the City of London. 

Report a coyote sighting


ESA Conservation Master Plan reviews

To help protect and enhance environmentally significant areas, conservation master plans are prepared to provide direction on the management of these high quality natural areas. The City is currently undertaking an update to these conservation master plans: 

Medway Valley Heritage Forest ESA

Input is currently being sought on the Medway Valley Heritage Forest Conservation Master Plan. Please visit the City's Get Involved engagement website for more information.


ESA Ecological Restoration Plans


Environmental Management Guidelines

Last modified:Friday, April 12, 2024