Cedarhurst, Carden Alvar, ON (Photo by William McIntyre)

Cedarhurst, Carden Alvar, ON (Photo by William McIntyre)

Carden Alvar conservation area expanded

April 27, 2021
Orillia, ON


Over 500 hectares (over 1,000 acres) conserved in the heart of Carden Alvar

The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) and the Couchiching Conservancy announced today the successful completion of efforts to purchase a key piece of the globally important Carden Alvar. The 551-hectare (1,362-acre) Cedarhurst Alvar property in the heart of the larger Carden Alvar, located 35 kilometres northeast of Orillia, is now protected for the long term.

The Cedarhurst Alvar property contains some of the most significant natural habitat in the province. Alvars, naturally open habitats with either a thin covering of soil or no soil over a base of limestone or dolostone bedrock, are extremely rare. They exist only in a handful of locations across the globe, including the eastern European Baltic region, United Kingdom and Ireland. In North America, almost 75 per cent of alvars are in Ontario.

This important local land purchase was made possible thanks to the generosity of many area residents and organizations, especially the Couchiching Conservancy, Jane Bonsteel, Carden Field Naturalists, John and Margaret Catto, Connor Clark and Lunn Financial Group Ltd., Ian Cook and Carol Phillips, The Gosling Foundation, Dr. Nancy Ironside, Jean O’Grady, Kawartha Field Naturalists, Dr. Ken Ockenden, Ontario Field Ornithologists, Peterborough Field Naturalists, Pilkington-Henniger Charitable Trust, Judy and Lou Probst, Linda Read, Joan and John Rosebush, the late John Speakman, Bill and Sue Swinimer Family, Bruce and Heather Whitehouse, Toronto Ornithological Club, Zita and Mark Bernstein Family Foundation, and many private donors. The project was funded in part by the Government of Canada’s Natural Heritage Conservation Program, part of Canada’s Nature Fund, as well as by funding provided by the Ontario government, through the Greenlands Conservation Partnership.

This new privately protected area provides Ontarians with $10 million in ecosystem goods and services annually, including carbon storage, the removal of air pollution and flood water storage. The property’s diverse habitats, including forests, wetlands and grasslands, act as sponges during spring run-off and major storms. By storing carbon and buffering local communities from the impacts of increasingly severe weather events, the property is an excellent example of the nature-based solutions needed to help combat climate change.

Home to many grassland birds listed under Canada’s Species at Risk Act, including grasshopper sparrow (special concern), bobolink (threatened) and eastern meadowlark (threatened), the Cedarhurst Alvar property adds to an existing network of conservation lands.

Its addition helps form a conservation corridor between Carden Alvar Provincial Park to the south and NCC- and partner-conserved lands extending north to Queen Elizabeth II Wildlands Provincial Park.


“Every block of land in Carden Alvar is special in its own way, but it’s the numbers that tell the story at Cedarhurst Alvar. It’s a staggering 551 hectares (1,362 acres). It’s providing $10 million a year in services, like cleaning drinking water, purifying air and storing carbon. There are hundreds of species using its wetlands, forests, grasslands and globally rare alvars. Doing conservation at this size and scale is incredibly important in today’s changing world.” – Kristyn Ferguson, program director, large landscapes - Ontario Region, Nature Conservancy of Canada

“The partnership between the Couchiching Conservancy and the Nature Conservancy of Canada on the Carden Alvar has been incredibly productive over the years, and we’re just delighted that Cedarhurst has become another chapter in that story. Our donors and partners have helped us protect an essential piece of the puzzle when it comes to creating natural corridors in this region. It’s reason to celebrate.” – Mark Bisset, Executive Director, Couchiching Conservancy

“Congratulations to the Nature Conservancy of Canada and their many partners for making the conservation of this significant natural habitat in Carden Alvar possible. This globally rare Alvar will help protect many species at risk, fight climate change and improve community resiliency. By working together on projects like this one announced today, we are making progress toward protecting a quarter of lands in Canada by 2025.”– The Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Environment and Climate Change

"We are expanding the amount of conserved green space across the province, not only to help preserve the environment, but to promote physical activity, such as hiking, and improving our mental health. By taking this approach, our government will be leaving a magnificent legacy for the benefit of future generations. It has been wonderful to be working with outstanding conservation leaders like the Nature Conservancy of Canada to achieve our shared goals." – Jeff Yurek, Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks

“The Nature Conservancy of Canada is doing great work throughout Ontario, including right here in Simcoe North, to secure land of ecological importance and promote healthy, natural spaces. Projects like Carden Alvar that help conserve, restore and manage natural areas will enhance and expand our community’s natural spaces for the public to enjoy for generations to come.” – Jill Dunlop, MPP for Simcoe North


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, with more than 84,000 hectares (207,000 acres) in Ontario. To learn more, visit natureconservancy.ca.

The Couchiching Conservancy is a non-profit, non-government land trust powered by a community of people, businesses and foundations dedicated to protecting nature for future generations. You can take action for nature by becoming a member, volunteering or donating to power local efforts to safeguard wilderness in our region. To learn more, please visit couchichingconserv.ca.

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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Media Contact:

Tara King
Manager, Communications
Ontario Region

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