Aerial image of Brighton Wetlands. (Photo by Dave Coulson)

Aerial image of Brighton Wetlands. (Photo by Dave Coulson)

Nature Conservancy of Canada expands protection of key wetlands in Brighton

January 26, 2023
Brighton, ON


Eastern Lake Ontario coast globally important for bird conservation

The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) has conserved an additional 30 hectares in the eastern Lake Ontario coast area to increase the protection of important wetlands for migratory birds.

The Brighton Wetland is a large, intact coastal wetland located just east of Presqu’ile Provincial Park. It is part of the Presqu’ile Bay Wetland Complex, a Provincially Significant Wetland, and the Presqu’ile Bay Important Bird Area, a globally important area for bird conservation.

This new addition expands the network of protected Lake Ontario coastal wetlands and surrounding forest and grassland around Presqu’ile Bay to 153 hectares. The Brighton Wetland provides habitat for many species at risk, including Blanding’s turtle (threatened) and king rail (endangered).

Tens of thousands of birds, like geese and ducks, stop, rest, nest and feed in sheltered areas of Presqu’ile Bay during their spring migration. Least bittern, wood thrush, pied-billed grebe and eastern wood-pewee are just some of the many bird species that have been observed here. The wetlands function as an important fish nursery and several at-risk turtle species are also found in this undisturbed area.

NCC’s next step is to develop a property management plan, which will identify conservation priorities and habitat restoration opportunities, and explore ways people can use this area for passive recreation. The non-profit conservation organization is now raising money to enhance the visitor experience — with signage, trails, viewing platforms and benches — so that the public can enjoy and appreciate nature.

This project highlights how NCC is accelerating the pace of conservation in Canada. In the past two years alone, NCC has influenced the protection of more than one million hectares (almost twice the size of Prince Edward Island), coast to coast to coast. Over the next few years, the organization will double its impact by mobilizing Canadians and delivering permanent, large-scale conservation.

In the face of rapid biodiversity loss and climate change, nature is our ally. There is no solution to either without nature conservation. When nature thrives, we all thrive.


This land conservation project was funded in part by the Government of Canada, Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Nature Smart Climate Solutions Fund, the Government of Ontario through the Greenlands Conservation Partnership, the North American Wetlands Conservation Act of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Lloyd and Donna Thurston, Gordon Tobey Developments Ltd., Audrey E. Wilson and other generous donors and foundations.

This conservation project included a purchase and a donation of land. The land donation was enabled by the Government of Canada’s Ecological Gifts Program. This program provides enhanced tax incentives for individuals or corporations who donate ecologically significant land.


"The local community has been very supportive of our conservation efforts in the Brighton area, and it is exciting to share this news about expanded wetland protection in the community." — Mark Stabb, Program Director for Central Ontario East, Nature Conservancy of Canada

“The twin crises of climate change and biodiversity loss are two sides of the same coin, and we must tackle them together. By working with partners such as the Nature Conservancy of Canada, the Government of Ontario, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Gordon Tobey Developments Ltd., and other generous donors and foundations, we are helping to protect the natural environment in Ontario and across the country. Protecting land plays a vital role in helping to halt and reverse biodiversity loss and contributes to the recovery of species at risk. Through programs like the Ecological Gifts Program and the Nature Smart Climate Solutions Fund, the Government of Canada is making progress toward its goals of mitigating climate change and conserving a quarter of land and oceans in Canada by 2025, working toward 30 percent of each by 2030.” — The Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Environment and Climate Change

“Ontario is blessed with incredibly diverse natural heritage, like the Brighton Wetland — a critical coastal wetland habitat in the province and home to a variety of wildlife and several species at risk. Ontario is proud to partner to protect this ecologically important natural area and other wetlands like these that are critical to preserving the future of Ontario’s biodiversity for generations to come.” — The Honourable David Piccini, Ontario Minister of Environment, Conservation and Parks

“Brighton is blessed with a beautiful shoreline, conservation lands, our local parks and Presqu’Ile.  Today marks another milestone as Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) adds more protected lands to their conservation inventory right here in Brighton. We are pleased to have a great conservation partner in the Nature Conservancy of Canada.” — Mayor of Brighton, Brian Ostrander


  • Lands around eastern Lake Ontario are on the traditional territories of the Anishinaabe and Haudenosaunee Peoples. With gratitude and respect, we acknowledge the significant contributions that Indigenous Peoples have, and continue to make, on these lands.
  • Fewer than 30 per cent of Ontario’s original wetlands remain today in southern Ontario, and in some areas, that number drops to below 20 per cent.


The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) is the country’s unifying force for nature. We seek solutions to the twin crises of rapid biodiversity loss and climate change through large-scale, permanent land conservation. As a trusted partner, we work with people, communities, businesses, and government to protect and care for our most important natural areas. Since 1962, we have brought Canadians together to conserve and restore more than 15 million hectares. NCC is a registered charity. With nature, we build a thriving world. To learn more, visit natureconservancy.ca.

The Greenlands Conservation Partnership helps conserve ecologically important natural areas and protect wetlands, grasslands and forests that help mitigate the effects of climate change. Through the Greenlands Conservation Partnership, a total of $50 million will be invested over four years, including $20 million from the Ontario government, and another $30 million from other sources, such as individual donations and foundation support through the NCC and the Ontario Land Trust Alliance, and other levels of government.

Canada’s Nature Smart Climate Solutions Fund (NSCSF) is a $631 million, ten-year investment to help restore and enhance wetlands, peatlands, and grasslands in order to help tackle the dual crises of climate change and biodiversity loss. NSCSF will focus on three main objectives: (1) restoring degraded ecosystems; (2) improving land management practices, especially in agriculture, forestry, and urban development sectors; and (3) conserving carbon-rich ecosystems at high risk of conversion to other uses that would release their stored carbon. Overall, these projects will contribute to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and increased carbon sequestration, while also providing benefits for biodiversity and human wellbeing.

For photos and video, click here.

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Tara King
Communications Director, Ontario
C: 416-937-5079

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