Britain Lake Wetland and Woodlands, Saugeen Bruce Peninsula, ON (Photo by NCC)

Britain Lake Wetland and Woodlands, Saugeen Bruce Peninsula, ON (Photo by NCC)

New Nature Conservancy of Canada property connects habitat for genetically unique bears on Saugeen Bruce Peninsula

July 29, 2021
Lion's Head, ON


160-hectare property offers rare conservation corridor

The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) is announcing the purchase of a property on the Saugeen Bruce Peninsula. At 160 hectares (395 acres) of forest and wetland, the Britain Lake Wetland and Woodlands property connects adjacent protected areas to form a conservation corridor at the north end of the peninsula between Britain and Otter lakes, covering over 445 hectares (1,100 acres).

Connected ecosystems allow animals to move freely without having to face threats like crossing a highway or bumping into human development. The beech trees that form the deciduous forest on the Britain Lake property also provide fatty meals of beech nuts for the local population of American black bear. A conifer swamp, dominated by cedars, shades native orchids and limestone ridges jut from the spine of the Niagara escarpment, supporting calcium-loving ferns that cling to the rock.

As natural areas face growing pressures across the peninsula, protecting spaces like the Britain Lake Wetland and Woodlands property, with such diverse habitats, becomes increasingly important.

The Saugeen Bruce Peninsula not only provides habitat for rare plants and birds, but also for a unique population of American black bear that, as a result of geography and human development, have restricted movement between other populations in Ontario. Now, the small number of bears left in the region are genetically distinct from their provincial cousins and, without adequate protection, could become locally extinct within our lifetime. Having space to eat, sleep, roam and mate around intact natural spaces such as Britain Lake is vital for their survival.

Many species listed under Canada’s Species at Risk Act can also find refuge on the Britain Lake property, including massasauga rattlesnakes (threatened), eastern ribbonsnake (threatened), wood thrush (threatened) and Canada warbler (threatened).

The new conservation area does not quite reach Britain Lake, but includes much of the land between the Bruce Trail Conservancy’s Cape Chin Woods and Otter Lake Nature Reserve properties. NCC’s conservation team is working to identify how best to enable people to safely and responsibly enjoy the property while ensuring the protection of the natural features and species it protects.

The project was funded in part by the Government of Canada’s Natural Heritage Conservation Program, part of Canada’s Nature Fund. Funding was also provided by SC Johnson, Bruce Power and the Ontario government, through the Greenlands Conservation Partnership, to protect and steward the Britain Lake Wetland and Woodlands property forever.


“These conservation corridors are rare on the Saugeen Bruce Peninsula, so to be able to connect habitats that bears, massasauga rattlesnakes and other animals need to eat, move, mate and sleep without having to cross a road, for example, is really exciting. American black bears on the Saugeen Bruce Peninsula are genetically unique from neighbouring populations in Ontario, so we have a responsibility to ensure they’re there for future generations.”  ΜΆ  Esme Batten, NCC’s Midwestern Ontario Program Director

“Our government is growing Ontario’s conserved green spaces to protect important natural areas and provide people with more outdoor recreation opportunities that benefit our physical and mental health. By collaborating with conservation leaders like the Nature Conservancy of Canada and the Ontario Land Trust Alliance, Ontario can achieve our shared goals to protect our land, air and water for future generations.” – David Piccini, Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks

“When it comes to addressing the twin crises of climate change and rapid biodiversity loss, nature is an important ally. I am pleased to see the further protection of ecologically significant lands on the Saugeen Bruce Peninsula, which will support wildlife and help ensure people can enjoy this pristine region for generations to come.” – The Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Environment and Climate Change


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 14 million hectares (35 million acres), coast to coast to coast.

The Government of Canada’s Natural Heritage Conservation Program (NHCP) is a unique public-private partnership to support new protected and conserved areas by securing private lands and private interests in lands. The program is managed by the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC). Federal funds invested in the program are matched with contributions raised by NCC and its partners, Ducks Unlimited Canada and the country’s land trust community.

The Ontario government’s Greenlands Conservation Partnership helps partners secure land to conserve ecologically important natural areas and protect wetlands, grasslands and forests that help mitigate the effects of climate change. The government will partially match private and other non-provincial contributions to the Nature Conservancy of Canada and the Ontario Land Trust Alliance, to help conservation partners secure, restore and manage new protected areas.



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