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.
Environmentalist in Residence photo contest

As part of the Environmentalist in Residence program, Dr. Andrea Boyer will be sharing a weekly video throughout April from her visits to London's Environmentally Significant Areas.

Share your experiences visiting an ESA this April too, and safely snap a selfie or take a photo of a scenic view. Post online using #LdnESA for a chance to win a prize.

Contest rules
How to enter
  • Participants must successfully upload a post to social media (on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook) between the dates of April 1, 2021 and May 1, 2021. The post must include a photo taken between the dates of April 1, 2021 and May 1, 2021 at a London Environmentally Significant Area, and must use the hashtag "#LdnESA"
  • Entry may also be submitted via email between the dates of April 1, 2021 and May 1, 2021 to gsandle@london.ca and must include a photo taken between the dates of April 1, 2021 and May 1, 2021 at a London Environmentally Significant Area, and the date the photo was taken and with “ESA photo competition” in the subject line.
  • The location of the photo must be easily recognizable at or within an Environmentally Significant Area within the municipal city limits of London, Ontario, Canada by including the ESA location sign in the photo.
  • Provided they meet all the criteria above, submissions may be completed by any number of the participants within a group/business who are visible in the submitted photo.
  • No purchase necessary to participate in this contest.

By entering this contest, the contestant gives their consent to be contacted by the City of London by electronic message.

Copyright and use of photo entries

The contestant must be the sole owner of all rights to the photos that the contestant submits. Upon submission to the contest via web form or social media, the contestant gives permission to the City for the City to publish the image:

  • On social media (including on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook);
  • In promotional materials directly related to the contest;

Contestants retain copyright and any other intellectual property rights in their submitted photo entries, subject to any rights the contestant grants to Facebook, Instagram and Twitter when uploading their photo. However, by entering the contest, the contestant agrees to give a royalty-free, world-wide, perpetual, transferable, non-exclusive licence to the City, and anyone it authorizes, to use, publicly display, publicly perform, distribute, adapt, modify, crop, reproduce, translate, publish, and create derivative works, of the photo entries in any media now existing or subsequently developed including the Internet, for any City purpose including, but not limited to, advertising and promotion. Such licence is provided without any fee or other form of compensation, or any requirement for additional approvals. Photo credit will be given where possible.

The contestant waives all moral rights in any of his or her winning entries.

The City may request permission to use select photos for publication in other materials. The contestant will indemnify and hold the City harmless from any infringement of any copyright or other intellectual property in any and all photos the contestant submits. There is no expectation of privacy and the photographer acknowledges that they have the consent of all people in the photograph. The contestant represents and warrants that they are the owner of the photo entry, and that they hold all intellectual property rights in the photo entry. The contestant further represents and warrants that all required rights and permissions have been secured from all parties associated with the photo entry and all contents thereof, appearing in any of the photo entry.

Personal information

The personal information collected through this contest is collected under the authority of the Municipal Act, 2001 and subsection 28(2) of the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, 1990. By entering the contest and voluntarily providing personal information, each contestant grants permission to the City to collect and use the contestant’s personal information for the purpose of administering the contest, selecting the contest winner and promoting the contest. By participating in the contest, each contestant gives their consent for their photo, their name and comments accompanying the photo entry to be disclosed and published on the City of London’s website and used in digital, written, verbal or audiovisual promotional materials of the City of London in accordance with the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, 1990. Inquiries about the collection, use or disclosure of your personal information or questions about this contest should be directed to Patrick Donnelly at pdonnelly@london.ca or 519.661.2489 x 0418

Prizes and chances of winning

Prizes will be drawn at random for the entries submitted to the contest. The chances of winning are dependent on the number of eligible photos received.

Prizes include:

  • A Rainbarrel
  • A Composter
  • 50 Harvest Bucks
  • 50 Harvest Bucks
  • 50 Harvest Bucks
Winner notification

Selected winners will be drawn randomly, and will be contacted by a representative of the City of London via the format they used to submit entry in order to discuss their preferred prize selection (subject to availability) and how to safely pick up their prize.

Once contacted, winners will be given ten (10) business days to respond before another random winner may be selected in their place.

Submissions will become part of the City of London public record and may be viewed by the general public at any time. The submitted photo may be used in the future to publicly promote City of London information or events.

Contest participants agree to hold Facebook Inc. Twitter, Inc., the City of London, and all the partners and their officers, employers, agents, contractors and affiliates, harmless from any loss, damage or liability relating to this contest.

Contest participants acknowledge that this promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.

City of London employees, volunteers and interns are not eligible to win the contest. Photos can be of any resolution, in color, black and white, or apply a subtle filter. File formats should be JPEG or PNG. Drawings, paintings, renderings or composite (aka "photoshopped") images will not be accepted. Photos should not include any text overlay. The City reserves the right to crop out any overlaid text. Photos must not capture any identifiable individual other than the contestant. Contestants must follow all current public health guidelines, physical distancing, and safety protocols when taking photographs. Contestants must follow all rules and regulations when visiting the Environmentally Significant Area. Contestants shall not, at any time, take photographs while on a roadway. Photos must be appropriate for posting on a public government website.

Contestants shall not upload material that is unlawful, obscene, defamatory, libelous, threatening, pornographic, harassing, hateful, racially or ethnically offensive, in violation of any third party’s rights, or encourages conduct that would be considered a criminal offence, give rise to civil liability, violate any law, or is otherwise inappropriate. Photos that contain nudity, or obscene, provocative, defamatory, sexually explicit or otherwise objectionable content will not be considered. City of London staff will remove images from the contest that contravene the terms and conditions set out in the contest rules at its sole discretion.

Additional details

By entering the contest, the contestant agrees to abide by the contest rules. No prize substitutions will be made, save for the City’s right, at its sole discretion, to make an offer or prize substitution of equivalent value.

The City reserves the right to verify the full legal name of the contest winners. To claim the prize, valid government issued photo identification may be required.

The City reserves the right, at its complete discretion, to cancel or modify the contest in the event that, in its opinion, the holding of the contest would be prevented for one reason or another, including a technical failure or breakdown, an unauthorized intervention, fraud or any other cause beyond the control of the City which would compromise the management, security, impartiality, integrity or smooth running of this contest. This contest is null and void where prohibited by law.

Any dispute regarding the organizing or conduct of this contest may be submitted to Patrick Donnelly at pdonnelly@london.ca or 519.661.2489 x 0418

The City is not responsible for computer system, hardware, software or program malfunctions or other errors, failures, or delayed computer transactions or network connections that affect the contest or your participation in it.

Furthermore, the City is not responsible for:

  1. Lost, misdirected, misplaced, illegible, unintelligible, incomplete or late entries.
  2. Any act, failure to act, or delay regarding the transmitting or processing of entries.

The City is also not responsible for any technical delays in submission emails, entries and/or uploads and updates. The City reserves the right to disqualify any contestant that the City has reason to believe does not comply with the contest rules. If after the awarding of the contest prizes a contest winner is disqualified or determined to be ineligible, an alternate winner will be selected using the same judging process/criteria described above. Alternate winners are subject to all requirements set forth in these rules.

The City reserves the right to change or alter these rules for the purpose of accommodation in the submission of photo entries, and of participants in accordance with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 (AODA). The City is entitled to interpret these rules as required and its decisions are final. For more information, contact Patrick Donnelly at pdonnelly@london.ca or 519.661.2489 x 0418

By participating in the contest, the contestant agrees to indemnify and hold harmless the City and its employees, Councillors, agents and representatives from any and all damages, injuries, claims, causes of actions, or losses of any kind resulting from the contestant's participation in this contest, including infringement of another person’s intellectual property rights. The contestant also releases the City and its employees, Councillors, agents and representatives from any responsibility or liability for any damages, injuries, claims, causes of actions, or losses of any kind the contestant may incur or suffer arising in whole or in part from participation in this contest.

The contestant represents and warrants their entry will not infringe nor otherwise violate any right of another person.

This contest is subject to all applicable federal, provincial and municipal laws and regulations. These contest rules are subject to change without notice in order to comply with any applicable federal, provincial and municipal laws or the policy of any other entity having jurisdiction over the contest.

Any and all disputes arising from the contest will be resolved in the courts of the Province of Ontario and are subject to the laws of that Province.

Contestants should read the terms of use of third party sites such as Twitter and Facebook, prior to uploading any content to such site, and the City makes no covenants, representations or warranties with respect to the copyright in any photos uploaded to such sites.

Contestants shall completely release Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Prize winners will be required to sign a form accepting the prize as awarded. By entering the contest all contestants agree to all of the terms and conditions set out herein.


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

To learn more about adopting an ESA, contact planning@london.ca or call 519-661-4980

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. 

To learn more, please contact planning@london.ca or call 519-661-4980

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 Info Centre – 696 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

    Learn more about the Kelly Stanton Ecological Restoration Plan 

    Last modified:Friday, May 07, 2021