Celebrating another great year of conservation successes, coast to coast

Landmark Campaign launch event (Photo by Shawn Pinnock/Button Factory)

Landmark Campaign launch event (Photo by Shawn Pinnock/Button Factory)

This year, the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) has much to celebrate.

In 2018 alone, we secured 329,849 acres (133,485 hectares) of land, adding to the habitat we currently protect for 32 per cent of Canada’s at-risk species. This year, we’ve conserved more habitat for species at risk and places for people to explore — coast to coast — than ever before.

With our Conservation Volunteers events, Conservation Internship Program, NatureTalks speakers’ series and the launch of our Landmark Campaign — and with the help of our partners, donors and Canadians across the country — NCC has marked another great year for conservation.

But we couldn’t have done it without supporters like you. Through your tax-deductible gift, we will be able to meet even more of our goals in 2019. Be a part of protecting Canada's lands, waters and wildlife now and into the future.

Here is a regional break down of NCC’s top successes of 2018:

British Columbia

Gámdis Tlagee Conservation Area, Haida Gwaii

Located in the Kumdis Slough area of Haida Gwaii lies a network of protected lands that supports salmon-bearing streams, estuaries and old-growth forests. This year, NCC partnered with the Haida Nation to secure the last unprotected parcels in this ecologically important area. 

Haida Gwaii, BC (Photo by Andrew Hudson)

Haida Gwaii, BC (Photo by Andrew Hudson)

Old-growth Sitka spruce and western red-cedar forest still stand along the waterfront portion of the conservation area. The area provides essential habitat for three species of salmon, as well as at-risk wildlife, such as marbled murrelet and Haida ermine.

The Haida Nation and NCC are co-managing the Gámdis Tlagee Conservation Area for ecological and cultural values. Extensive restoration is being planned in collaboration with the Haida Fisheries and Fisheries and Oceans Canada to rehabilitate the lands.

Alberta

Collaboration leads to boreal forest protection of global importance

On May 15, NCC and our partners announced the creation of a 3,330 km² conserved area in northeast Alberta. When added to neighbouring conserved lands (Richardson, Kazan, Birch Mountain and Wood Buffalo National Park), the area now measures 67,000 km² (6.7 million hectares). This creates the largest stretch of protected boreal forest on the planet — an area more than twice the size of Belgium!

Boreal forest near Fort McMurray, AB (Photo by Michel Rapinski)

Boreal forest near Fort McMurray, AB (Photo by Michel Rapinski)

A series of agreements between the Tallcree Tribal Government, NCC, the Government of Alberta, Government of Canada and Syncrude Canada has created Birch River Wildland Provincial Park, which borders the southern boundary of Wood Buffalo National Park.

NCC facilitated agreements between the Tallcree Tribal Government and the Government of Alberta to retire timber quotas along the Birch River.

The Birch River Wildland Provincial Park is a haven for 68 species of conservation concern, including three that are listed as threatened under Canada's Species at Risk Act: wood bison, peregrine falcon and woodland caribou.

Saskatchewan

Conservation in the classroom

Last year, a group of Kawacatoose First Nation students visited NCC’s Maymont property to plant wildflower plugs and collect seeds that would later be used in one of NCC’s restoration projects. The field trip was part of the Learning the Land program, which teaches students about native prairie conservation and species at risk from both western science and Indigenous Traditional Knowledge perspectives.

Students on a field trip to Pasqua Lake, Saskatchewan, as part of the Learning the Land program. (Photo courtesy of TD Bank Group)

Students on a field trip to Pasqua Lake, Saskatchewan, as part of the Learning the Land program. (Photo courtesy of TD Bank Group)

NCC is partnering with Treaty 4 Education Alliance schools to bring conservation into the classroom. The program consists of classroom-based learning led by teachers, along with special presentations from NCC staff and outdoor field trips. One activity included an art project facilitated by well-known Cree artist Michael Lonechild from White Bear First Nation.

Partnerships such as the Treaty 4 Education Alliance create collaboration and inspiration to increase conservation efforts across Canada and help protect our spectacular natural areas.

Manitoba

Securing priority habitats in Manitoba’s newest natural area

Waggle Springs is a shining example of a high-priority conservation opportunity in Manitoba’s Assiniboine Delta Natural Area. The grassland habitats found here are some of the most endangered in the world, and they are rapidly disappearing in Canada. Waggle Springs is also home to bubbling spring water, which supports the nationally rare roundleaf monkeyflower.

Assiniboine Delta, MB (Photo by Jordan Becker)

Assiniboine Delta, MB (Photo by Jordan Becker)

The Assiniboine Delta hosts unique and uncommon plants, as well as animals that are dependent on prairies, sandy barrens and open dunes. The recent securement of this 754-acre (305-hectare) property is crucial to NCC’s goal of protecting the Assiniboine Delta’s wildlife and habitats.

More than 20 plants and animals assessed as at risk by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada have been confirmed in this natural area. This includes the majority of the known sites of prairie skink, and the only Manitoba populations of four rare moths, including dusky dune moth.

Ontario

Protecting a watery paradise  

The Minesing Wetlands comprise approximately 15,000 acres (6,000 hectares) of wetlands and forests. The area is home to many at-risk species, such as least bittern and cerulean warbler.

Cerulean warbler (Photo by Bill Hubick)

Cerulean warbler (Photo by Bill Hubick)

In the spring of 2018, NCC celebrated the protection of a new addition to this watery paradise. The 107-acre (43-hectare) Patrick W. E. Hodgson Property, located just 12 kilometres outside of Barrie, Ontario, is home to the Hine’s emerald. This globally rare dragonfly is found only in the Minesing area in the Canadian portion of its range.

The area supports a wide variety of wetland birds and waterfowl, which flock to the area in the tens of thousands during spring migration, when most of the wetlands resemble a large lake.

These species-rich wetlands are also important to surrounding communities. They provide flood control, water filtration, fish habitat and recreational opportunities. Over 70 per cent of southern Ontario’s wetlands have been lost since European settlement. The remaining wetlands are threatened by non-native invasive species, pollution and habitat fragmentation.

To date, NCC and our partners have protected 13,600 acres (5,500 hectares) here. Minesing Wetlands have been designated as a Provincially Significant Wetland and a Ramsar Wetland of International Importance. This most recent addition was conserved thanks to the generous support of many donors, including the Government of Canada, through the Natural Areas Conservation Program, and The Patrick Hodgson Family Foundation.

Quebec

Conserving a natural and historical treasure

Granted as a seigniorial domain in 1674 by Louis XIV, King of France, to Monseigneur Laval, the first bishop of Quebec, the Kenauk property is deeply rooted in Canadian history. In fact, from 1801, and for the century that followed, it was owned by the Papineau family. One of its most notable residents was Louis-Joseph Papineau, one of Quebec’s well-known 19th century political figures.

Kenauk, QC (Photo by Kenauk Nature)

Kenauk, QC (Photo by Kenauk Nature)

Along with its rich human history, Kenauk is also of unique ecological importance. The site boasts extensive forests and over 60 lakes. Several provincially rare species and habitats are found here, including black maple forests. The large forests provide ideal habitat for large predators, such as American black bear. We are currently researching the presence of the nationally threatened eastern wolf on the property.

On World Environment Day, NCC and our partners announced the protection of 15,000 acres (6,000 hectares) on the Kenauk property, conserving a three-kilometre-wide and 20-kilometre-long corridor.

Wetlands and aquatic environments, such as streams, ponds and lakes, cover almost 15 per cent of the property. They provide suitable nesting and staging habitats for American black duck, wood duck and many other species of migratory birds.

This project is a great example of a partnership between various public and private funding partners coming together for conservation and for the well-being of communities. The Governments of Canada and the United States (the latter through the North American Wetlands Conservation Act) all contributed, as well as a host of private donors, namely companies, foundations and individuals.

New Brunswick

Restoring Acadian forests on the Chignecto Isthmus

Acadian forests have declined in the past few hundred years, due to clearing for agriculture, housing and conversion tied to forestry practices. Less than five per cent of Acadian forest remains in pre-settlement condition, and only a fraction of this is old-growth. NCC has been working to restore the diversity of Acadian forests in the narrow Chignecto Isthmus, between Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.

NCC has recently developed a forest management plan for our 1,000 acres (405 hectares) in the New Brunswick side of the Chignecto Isthmus area. The plan is based on the new Acadian Forest Restoration Manual written by NCC staff. The manual is intended to help guide private woodlot owners in sustainable forestry practices that protect the biodiversity of Acadian forests.

Acadian forest, Chignecto Isthmus, NS (Photo by Mike Dembeck)

Acadian forest, Chignecto Isthmus, NS (Photo by Mike Dembeck)

Working in partnership with Community Forests Canada, NCC has completed ongoing forest management work in the Isthmus. This has included small patch cuts in second-growth forests to create openings and then planting them with a variety of Acadian forest tree species (red oak, red spruce, white pine, eastern hemlock and yellow birch) to reintroduce them to the area.

In June 2017, 17 Conservation Volunteers braved the rain to help plant an old field with more than 2,000 red spruce, white pine and red oak seedlings. The property is located on the Chignecto Isthmus, and borders protected areas of Acadian forest.

The goal of this project is to restore a diverse Acadian forest and provide a model for forest restoration in the region.

Nova Scotia

Protecting a rare salt marsh species

On February 2, World Wetlands Day, NCC announced the conservation of a 61-acre (25-hectare) island in Lobster Bay, Nova Scotia. The island contains a plant that is rare in Canada and listed as threatened under Canada’s Species at Risk Act: the eastern baccharis.  

Eastern baccharis, Lobster Bay, NS (Photo by NCC)

Eastern baccharis, Lobster Bay, NS (Photo by NCC)

Lobster Bay provides important salt marsh habitat for the eastern baccharis. The flowering shrub measures about three metres tall and, in Canada, is found only in southwest Nova Scotia.  

NCC purchased the property from John Brett of Halifax, who wanted to see its rare salt marsh plants permanently protected. This conservation project was supported by funding from the Government of Canada, through the Natural Areas Conservation Program, the Nova Scotia Crown Share Legacy Trust and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, under the North American Wetlands Conservation Act.

NCC has now completed two conservation projects in the Lobster Bay region, building on work by the Province of Nova Scotia to establish the Tusket Islands Wilderness Area.

Prince Edward Island

Conserving one of PEI’s last wild beaches

The Cascumpec Sandhills are part of a chain of near-shore islands that are often considered to be Prince Edward Island’s last true wilderness. And for more than a century, a parcel of land on the sandhills had belonged to the Oulton family.

Piping plover (Photo by Ian Sadler)

Piping plover (Photo by Ian Sadler)

This year, Ian Oulton donated 150 acres (61 hectares) of exceptional coastal habitat on the Cascumpec Sandhills to NCC.

NCC’s Cascumpec Sandhills property, and the neighbouring Conway Sandhills property, are part of a system of island barrier beaches on the northwest shore of PEI. The Cascumpec Sandhills are characterized by a sand dune ecosystem. Located in the globally significant Cascumpec Bay/Alberton Harbour Important Bird Area, this area provides an important staging area for waterfowl migration. It also provides critical nesting habitat for the endangered piping plover.    

Conservation of this property was made possible through the Government of Canada’s Natural Areas Conservation Program. In addition, a portion of this project was donated to NCC under the Canadian government’s Ecological Gifts Program, which provides enhanced tax incentives for individuals or corporations donating ecologically significant land. American Friends of Nature Conservancy of Canada also contributed generously to this project.

Newfoundland and Labrador

Bioblitzing the Grand Codroy Estuary

A group of seven intrepid Conservation Volunteers and NCC staff gathered at the newest property in the Grand Codroy Estuary Nature Reserve early one Saturday morning in July, for the property’s first bioblitz. Located in the southwest corner of the island of Newfoundland, with views of the dramatic Long Range Mountains, NCC’s nature reserve in the Codroy Valley is a popular destination for birders.  

Black-and-white warbler (Photo by NCC)

Black-and-white warbler (Photo by NCC)

The volunteer group’s mission for the next six hours was to identify and document any and all species on the new property. This information will be used to help NCC develop a baseline inventory, which will inform future management of the reserve.

The team completed eight different habitat surveys. Over the course of the day, volunteers identified 18 species of birds and over 90 species of plants. Some of the birds noted on the property included boreal chickadee, American redstart, black and white warbler, blackpoll warbler, black-throated warbler and ruby-crowned kinglet.

Supporter Spotlight

Atlantic puffins (Photo by Bill Caulfield-Browne)