Conway Sandhills, Prince Edward Island (Photo by John Sylvester)
The Conway Sandhills are part of a 50-kilometre-long sand dune and wetland complex on the north shore of western Prince Edward Island, stretching from Malpeque to Jacques Cartier Provincial Park, west of Alberton (the Hog Island, Conway and Cascumpec sandhills). This entire chain of dunes is a high priority for the Nature Conservancy of Canada's (NCC's) work in Prince Edward Island.
Conway Sandhills at a glance
- NCC has acquired 237 acres (96 hectares) at the Conway Sandhills and is focused on securing additional properties for conservation.
- The property contains four key targets for our conservation work: sand dunes, salt marshes, waterfowl and the piping plover, an endangered shorebird.
- Most of PEI's sand dune areas and off-shore islands were identified as important for conservation by the International Biological Program (1972). They are also identified in NCC's Northern Appalachians-Acadian Blueprint, as well as the Significant Environmental Areas Plan that is used by the Government of PEI to guide its work in securing the most significant natural sites.
- In addition to its natural features, the Sandhills are important for their archaeological and geological features, as well as their importance for Mi'kmaq cultural heritage and traditional use for camping, picking berries, hunting, gathering, medicinal plants, fishing many types of fish and shellfish and ceremonial uses.
- The connecting Conway Narrows, a body of water, is a major feeding area for migrating waterfowl.
- The Malpeque Bay and Cascumpec Bay are both Important Bird Areas, particularly for Canada goose, green-winged teal and American black duck.
- The Sandhills are covered and stabilized by American beach-grass, with patches of northern bayberry. The salt marsh is dominated by saltwater cordgrass and saltmeadaow cordgrass. Adjacent shallow water has seawrack.
- The Gulf of St. Lawrence pinweed is a species of special concern and occurs on the Sandhills.
- Both the eastern and western ends of the sandy north shore of the Conway Sandhills have sheltered nesting piping plovers for many years. There are many other species of shorebirds that use the north and south beaches for feeding during migration.
Our vision for the Conway Sandhills
This is one of NCC's prime areas of focus on Prince Edward Island. It is one of the most spectacular, unique, least disturbed and ecologically significant coastal dune ecosystem complexes in eastern Canada. We aim to conserve and steward the natural features of this unique area so that the area's ecological heritage survives for now and forever.