The Nature Conservancy of Canada's mark in conservation history

J. Bruce Falls, Richard Pough, Aird Lewis and David Fowle. First exploratory meeting for the Nature Conservancy of Canada, 1961 (NCC archives)

J. Bruce Falls, Richard Pough, Aird Lewis and David Fowle. First exploratory meeting for the Nature Conservancy of Canada, 1961 (NCC archives)

January 10, 2019 | by Mark Rittinger

Since 1962, the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) has worked to protect our country’s most important natural areas and the species they sustain. And to think it all started with a spirited group of naturalists in Toronto, Ontario, more than 56 years ago.

Stung by the damage to the natural world that they saw all around them, J. Bruce Falls, PhD, Richard Pough, Aird Lewis and Dave Fowle launched a program to take direct, private action to protect natural spaces and promote conservation. At the time it was a bold plan. It was also the birth of NCC.

In 1968, NCC broke ground and protected its first project: Cavan Swamp and Bog in Ontario. This wetland spanned around 3,400 acres (1,340 hectares) and is home to 22 species of orchids.

NCC's first project was Cavan Swamp and Bog in Ontario (Photo by NCC)

NCC's first project was Cavan Swamp and Bog in Ontario (Photo by NCC)

In 1971, we expanded outside of Ontario and into the East Coast, with a land donation at Sight Point on Cape Breton in Nova Scotia. We then started making waves across the country by protecting more and more land for the future enjoyment of Canadians and the health of the environment.

By 2001, NCC had conserved more than 1,000 properties across Canada.

We continued to diversify our conversation work with new initiatives, such as our first public education and ecotourism centre at Johnson’s Mills, New Brunswick. This area is one of North America’s most important stopovers for semipalmated sandpipers. Canadians now have a place to witness the magnificent migration of this species on protected habitat.

Semipalmated sandpiper (Photo by Denis Doucet)

Semipalmated sandpiper (Photo by Denis Doucet)

Another initiative we took on was the successful reintroduction of 50 plains bison to our Old Man on His Back Prairie and Heritage Conservation Area in Saskatchewan.

Over the last 56 years, NCC has made monumental strides for nature conservation in Canada. This has been made possible by the generous donations from Canadians like you. These donations have helped protect some of Canada’s most ecologically significant areas.

Plains bison, Old Man on His Back Prairie and Heritage Conservation Area, SK (Photo by NCC)

Plains bison, Old Man on His Back Prairie and Heritage Conservation Area, SK (Photo by NCC)

And to continue on with our work, we recently launched our Landmark Campaign, inviting Canadians to join together in the largest private fundraising campaign for conservation in Canadian history. The campaign aims to raise $750 million, and is our most ambitious fundraising initiative to date. So far, we have raised over $555 million for conservation.

We started with humble beginnings, but are now making history by pledging to protect at least 500 new land conservation projects under the campaign — including 10 signature landscapes across Canada.

Click here to be a part of Canada’s conservation history. Your investment will help us conserve more land faster, connect more Canadians to nature and inspire the next generation of conservation leaders.

Mark Rittinger (Photo courtesy Mark Rittinger)

About the Author

Mark Rittinger is thrilled to be serving as NCC's vice-president, development and marketing.

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