Nature Conservancy of Canada protects rare salt marsh on Haldimand River
The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) has purchased and protected a total of 57 hectares (141 acres) in Abrams Village, at the mouth of the Haldimand River, west of Summerside. NCC has conserved two properties containing coastal forests, including 20 hectares (49 acres) of intact salt marsh, a rare habitat on PEI. Only one per cent of PEI’s land mass is made up of salt marshes, making them critically important areas for conservation. Intact salt marshes are some of the world’s most biologically productive and valuable ecosystems, supporting a large diversity of birds, plants and marine life.
NCC’s PEI program director, Julie Vasseur, made the conservation announcement today in Abrams Village, along with Member of Parliament for Egmont, Bobby Morrissey, on behalf of Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna. Also participating was Richard Brown, PEI's Minister for Communities, Land and Environment.
The Nature Conservancy of Canada’s newest conservation areas on the Island are on opposite sides of the Haldimand River, bordering the large salt marsh near Abrams Village. The salt marsh provides vital habitat for many species of birds, including great blue heron, red-breasted merganser, American black duck, Nelson’s sparrow, willett, belted kingfisher and common goldeneye. NCC has conserved forested land surrounding the salt marsh, which will allow the marsh to adapt to climate change and rising sea levels. The forest, which is mainly white pine, supports royal fern, an uncommon species on PEI.
NCC’s newest properties at Abrams Village were conserved strategically: they are located near a third property previously conserved by the land trust, which provides a stronger degree of protection for all three areas. With these properties, the Nature Conservancy of Canada has now conserved 69 hectares (170 acres) here, more than half of the salt marsh in the Haldimand River’s important tidal estuary zone.
Conservation of the Haldiman River salt marsh property was made possible through the Government of Canada’s Natural Areas Conservation Program. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (under the North American Wetlands Conservation Act) provided support, and American Friends of Nature Conservancy of Canada also contributed generously to this conservation project.
“The Abram’s Village salt marsh is a rare undisturbed habitat, and we are thrilled to be able to protect it. NCC is not only conserving this critical ecosystem, we are protecting an important part of PEI’s history. NCC would like to thank American Friends of Nature Conservancy of Canada for their support, and the Government of Canada for its contribution to this project through the Natural Areas Conservation Program.”
Julie Vasseur, PEI Program Director, Nature Conservancy of Canada
“On behalf of my colleague, the Honourable Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change, I would like to congratulate the Nature Conservancy of Canada and its partners for their work to conserve and protect this important salt marsh and shorebird habitat. The Government of Canada is proud to support this significant conservation achievement through the Natural Areas Conservation Program. This initiative shows what a difference we can make for wildlife when we work together on habitat conservation.”
Bobby Morrissey, Member of Parliament for Egmont, Prince Edward Island
• Salt marshes played an important role in PEI’s history: salt marsh hay was a vital resource that helped pioneer families survive long winters by providing feed for their livestock. Salt marshes were valued as some of the Island’s prime land. They were, however, often drastically altered over two centuries in the process of building dykes and harvesting the marsh hay and rich “mussel mud” used as a fertilizer.
• Salt marshes were uncommon on PEI before European settlement and, afterward, many were significantly altered. The result is PEI’s coastline has fewer intact salt marshes than other parts of Atlantic Canada, and the remaining ones are in greater need of protection. The salt marsh at Abrams Village may have survived intact because the surrounding area is low-lying, wet and of limited use for agriculture.
• In addition to providing important habitat for many species of birds, PEI’s salt marshes provide critical ecological services, such as water filtration, carbon storage and nurseries for fish.
The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) is the nation's leading not-for-profit, private land conservation organization, working to protect our most important natural areas and the species they sustain. Since 1962, NCC and its partners have helped to protect more than 1.1 million hectares (2.8 million acres), coast to coast. The Nature Conservancy of Canada has conserved 29,500 hectares (more than 73,000 acres) in the Atlantic provinces.
The Government of Canada's Natural Areas Conservation Program (NACP) is a unique public-private partnership to accelerate the pace of land conservation across southern Canada. The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) manages the program. Federal funds are matched by contributions raised by NCC and its partners. Habitat conserved under the NACP enhances natural corridors and other protected areas.
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