Manitoulin Island Archipelago Natural Area
Southern Manitoulin Island coast, Ontario (Photo by NCC)
Conserving globally significant habitats and species
The Manitoulin Island Archipelago Natural Area is globally significant for its undeveloped Great Lakes shorelines and rare habitats, which support several species at risk such as lakeside daisy and Hill's thistle.
Recent analysis has shown the Manitoulin Island region to have the greatest richness of globally significant species and communities of any ecological district within the Canadian portion of the Great Lakes Basin. Manitoulin's intact natural landscapes support an exceptional abundance of endemic, disjunct and globally rare species and some of the best representative examples of ecological communities that are found nowhere else in the world, including globally significant alvar habitat.
The island also serves as an important staging area for colonial nesting waterbirds and migratory birds, and is a leader in light-pollution control with by-laws governing light use in several of the island's townships under the Dark Sky Initiative.
Despite the extraordinary ecological values of Manitoulin Island, less then four percent of the island is protected as conservation lands, leaving some of the most ecologically significant and sensitive areas of the island vulnerable to environmental degradation — especially coastal habitats.
By setting aside the island's most biologically significant habitats as conservation lands, the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) is working collaboratively with a number of conservation partners, including local naturalists, to protect key habitat types and ensure that Ontario's natural heritage is conserved for future generations. Most recently, NCC conserved almost half of Cockburn Island, an historic conservation project in Ontario.