Settled and urban landscapes are areas where the landscape and natural environment have permanently been shaped by human settlement and related activities. This is where human and environmental needs overlap and co-exist, and where conservation of biodiversity, ecosystems and species is as important as ensuring the sustainable flow of ecological goods and services to our communities. Within these settled landscapes, the urban core, suburban, peri-urban, ex-urban and rural areas can be distinguished. 

Over the past 50 years, the landscapes and natural ecosystems of southern Ontario have been altered and fragmented more rapidly and extensively than in any comparable period in history. From the beginning of the European settlement until today, southern Ontario has lost 80% of all woodlands and 72% of all wetlands. As a result, forests in these landscapes are composed of native remnants, secondary growth forests, successional patches, hedgerows, plantations and urban greenspaces. These forest types are embedded and interconnected within different land use types such as urban parks, residential areas, agricultural lands and open areas. Urban forests are also often fragmented and intersected by numerous roads and other forms of infrastructure.

Urban Core
Developed region of a town or city, with high population density and infrastructure of built environment (e.g., downtown Toronto).
Residential area on the outskirts of a town or city. Suburban areas make up the largest component of urban land use (e.g., commuter area like Whitby).
Transition zone between urban and rural areas, that frequently extends 100km beyond city limits (e.g., most of Southern Ontario). Peri-urban areas have a range of uses including agriculture, water catchments, forestry, mineral extraction, and tourism and recreation.
Region located outside of towns and cities, with low population density and settlements (e.g., countryside). These areas are often farming and agricultural areas.
Communities outside a city and its suburbs, inhabited chiefly by prosperous families (e.g., cottage country, estates).