Planning to protect the beautiful Bruce
Saugeen Bruce Peninsula, ON (Photo by Kas Stone)
Each year hundreds of thousands of people from all over the world visit the Saugeen Bruce Peninsula. If you have ever been there, you’ll know why. Breathtaking rock formations, soaring cliffs and clear turquoise water make you think you are in the Caribbean rather than midwestern Ontario.
However, the importance of the Saugeen Bruce Peninsula goes well beyond its aesthetic beauty. The peninsula supports an abundance of wildlife, including 44 orchid species, globally rare flowers, at-risk birds and reptiles, amphibians and mammals, such as deer, black bear and fisher.
The area also hosts a variety of habitats, including globally rare alvars, sand beaches, fens and ecologically significant meadow marshes. Thirteen per cent of the Saugeen Bruce Peninsula is classified as wetland habitat. Cabot Head, in the northeastern corner of the peninsula, is an important stopover site for migratory birds that gather in globally significant concentrations during their spring and fall migrations. In the spring, red-necked grebes congregate there in some of the highest numbers on the Great Lakes.
Queen snake found on the Saugeen Bruce Peninsula in 2017. When these snakes are observed, not only do we look for signs of snake fungal disease, we also examine them for signs of injury and measure them so we can better understand the number of young versus adults in the population. (Photo by NCC)
With increasing visitor pressure, it has never been more important than now to protect the sensitive areas of the Saugeen Bruce Peninsula and the species that rely on them.
But what to protect? And where? That’s where the Nature Conservancy of Canada’s (NCC’s) conservation planning process comes in.
Our on-the-ground work is led by a team of conservation science professionals who identify, plan and execute the protection of the best of Canada's natural spaces and manage and restore them for the long term. This process ensures that our conservation actions (like buying land, removing invasive plants or mapping the location of rare species) are efficient and effective.
NCC’s conservation process is guided by the following four steps, which happen at all scales (from ecoregions, to natural areas, to properties and projects):
1. Setting priorities
First, we identify where we should work, the species and habitats we want to protect, their viability and what threatens them.
2. Developing strategies
Next, we identify what we need to do to reduce the threats to those species and habitats to improve their overall viability.
3. Taking action
We then implement these strategies, both on our own and with partners.
4. Measuring success
We assess how effective our actions are and whether they are improving the viability of the species and habitats we want to protect while reducing the threats to them.
Measuring the success of the work leads to a reassessment of our priorities, strategies and actions, and then we begin the process again.
Saugeen Bruce Peninsula Natural Areas Conservation Plan
One of the important planning documents we use to guide our work is the Natural Area Conservation Plan (NACP). This important management tool looks at conservation over a large area. In 2017, NCC staff updated and expanded the Saugeen Bruce Peninsula NACP. This plan helps determine where the priority conservation lands are, what threatens them, and how we can protect, care and manage these lands for the long term.
It might seem simple, but NCC’s conservation planning process is a lot of work. We make sure that we use the best available science and that means expertise and effort. Thankfully, we have help from our partners — organizations, individuals, governments and corporations that believe in our work and help fund our planning process. Partners like Bruce Power, a proud supporter of NCC for over three years on conservation efforts across Ontario.
Recently, Bruce Power supported the creation and implementation of NACPs on the Saugeen Bruce Peninsula and Minesing Wetlands, and supported the purchase of an unmanned aerial vehicle equipped with a high-resolution camera and mapping software to support Ontario’s work on the Great Lake Basin wetland habitat conservation project.
Bruce Power is the world’s largest operating nuclear site, providing 30 per cent of Ontario’s power at 30 per cent less than the average cost to generate residential power. The eight-unit site supports 4,000 full-time jobs and thousands more indirectly. It injects billions of dollars into the economy annually, while producing safe, clean and reliable power. Bruce Power places emphasis on environmental stewardship by focusing on sustaining and improving biodiversity, conserving energy and supporting education programs.
This year, NCC conservation staff will implement the NACP for the Saugeen Bruce Peninsula to ensure that plants and animals, as well as visitors, inhabit this special place.