A Landscape Circuitry Assessment of Apple Orchard Contributions to Natural Heritage Systems in Grey County, Ontario
NHS (Natural Heritage Systems) are networks of connected natural features that support ecological functions and species movement. Although agricultural areas are omitted from NHS, some agri-systems, such as apple orchards, have potential perennial vegetation habitat contributions. This research aims to assess how changes to apple orchards can be targeted to contribute to NHS. Three assessments of a subset of Grey County were conducted using landscape circuitry analysis. Resistance values were assigned based on avian species habitat potential. Orchards were analyzed and ranked according to potential contributions. Both targeted (TOC) and non-targeted (LOC) assessments showed circuitry improvements of 0.17 in highest ranked orchards, when compared to baseline conditions (BC). A targeted approach shows a concentrated circuitry response in higher priority orchards but minimal response is less preferable orchards. Prioritizing orchards strategically can efficiently achieve increased habitat connectivity. These assessments identify opportune areas for interventions by landscape architects and environmental planners.