Happy Valley Forest just got a little happier
Nature Conservancy of Canada expands one of the GTA’s most popular natural attractions
There is good news for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts, just in time for Earth Day. A popular natural area for walkers and hikers in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) is expanding.
The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) has purchased another key conservation site in the heart of one of the GTA’s most biologically rich areas — the Happy Valley Forest — which has a lasting impact on the water supply for the entire area.
The Happy Valley Forest, located a half-hour drive from downtown Toronto, is one of the largest remaining intact deciduous forests on Canada’s Oak Ridges Moraine. This 631-hectare (1,560-acre) area is known for its rolling hills covered in mature maple, beech and oak upland forest. The forest protects the headwaters of streams that flow south to Lake Ontario and north to Lake Simcoe, providing the area with valuable, clean drinking water. It also provides health benefits associated with connecting people to nature.
This latest acquisition adds 10.5 hectares (26 acres) to a network of protected conservation land in the forest. The site features mature trees that provide habitat for species at risk, such as the Acadian flycatcher, cerulean warbler and Jefferson salamander.
This Nature Conservancy of Canada project was generously supported through funding from the Government of Canada through the Natural Areas Conservation Program. The Regional Municipality of York, which has been a partner with NCC in forest conservation for more than 10 years through the Natural Greenlands Conservancy Joint Venture, also provided significant funding, as did generous private donors.
The Nature Conservancy of Canada has been working to conserve the Happy Valley Forest for more than 15 years. With this latest addition, NCC has ensured that 313 hectares (773 acres) of protected land will remain natural habitat for the long-term. The Happy Valley Forest is open to the public for low-impact activities, such as hiking, birdwatching and photography. Visitors are welcome to experience its incredible natural beauty all year long. The Oak Ridges Moraine Trail runs through the forest, and NCC maintains several hiking trails.
The Happy Valley Forest also plays an important role on a global scale by helping mitigate the impacts of climate change. On a daily basis, it absorbs carbon from vehicles travelling on Highway 400; carbon that would be released into the atmosphere if the property were harvested or cut for development.
“York Region played a vital role in the protection of this newly acquired property and all 313 hectares of conservation lands in the Happy Valley Forest. NCC is proud of our partnership with the Region, which is our strongest and longest-running municipal partnership in the country. York funding is an important match for federal government funding as well as private donations.”
James Duncan, Nature Conservancy of Canada Vice-President, Ontario Region
“The Regional Municipality of York is proud of our long-term successful partnership with NCC and dedicated land donors. York Region has invested more than $1.5 million over 16 years to help NCC conserve the Happy Valley Forest in the heart of the Oak Ridges Moraine. Through our Regional Greening Strategy and the Natural Greenlands Conservancy Joint Venture, York Region is honoured to continue to work with NCC and residents to protect this ecologically important landscape.”
Ian Buchanan, Manager, Natural Heritage and Forestry
“The permanent protection of natural areas today will bring countless benefits for generations to come. We’re proud to support this great Canadian conservation charity in protecting a portion of Canada’s most populated region.”
Bruce MacLellan, Vice-Chair of the Nature Conservancy of Canada’s Board of Directors, and Karen Girling, contributors to the recent acquisition
“I want to thank the Nature Conservancy of Canada, the Regional Municipality of York and local donors for their ongoing efforts to help protect the Oak Ridges Moraine. Our Government is proud to build on our previous investments under the Natural Areas Conservation Program and continue to support the conservation of this important older-growth forest habitat.”
Hon. Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change
- The Happy Valley Forest is an old-growth forest in the making. Nowhere else on the western Moraine or within the Greater Toronto Area is old-growth forest of this extent achievable.
- Buying these lands in the heart of the forest helps the Nature Conservancy of Canada link a number of protected properties and expand a crucial wildlife corridor on the Oak Ridges Moraine.
The Nature Conservancy of Canada is the nation's leading land conservation organization, working to protect our most important natural areas and the species they sustain. Since 1962, NCC and its partners have helped protect more than 1.1 million hectares (2.8 million acres), coast to coast, with more than 74,400 hectares (184,000 acres) in Ontario.
The Government of Canada’s Natural Areas Conservation Program (NACP) is a unique public-private partnership led by the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC). To date, $345 million has been invested in the NACP by the Government of Canada to secure our natural heritage. Additionally, more than $500 million in matching contributions has been raised by NCC and its partners.
The Natural Greenlands Conservancy Joint Venture is a unique public-private partnership led by the Nature Conservancy of Canada. To date, the Regional Municipality of York has invested $1.5 million in NCC’s work in the Happy Valley Forest and other York lands to protect natural heritage in the Region. Additionally, more than $13.5 million in matching contributions has been raised by NCC and its donors and partners.
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