Nature Conservancy of Canada to accept massive land donation in Hastings County
A project of this size and ecological significance is rare in southern Ontario
The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC), Canada’s leading not-for-profit, private land conservation organization, is working on a major conservation project to help protect 5,000 hectares (12,000 acres) near Bancroft, Ontario. While the agreement includes a partial land donation, NCC still needs to raise funds to finalize the deal with Land’escapes, a new private conservation venture in the region.
The project, named the Hastings Wildlife Junction, is located where the Algonquin to Adirondacks and The Land Between corridors converge. This region is a biodiversity hot spot and provides some of the best remaining habitat for many species at risk and wide-ranging mammals, including eastern wolf, black bear, moose, pine marten, successfully reintroduced elk, rare birds and turtles. The region boasts extensive interior forest with an astonishing 98 per cent natural cover, significant rivers and wetlands, and is adjacent to more than 30,000 hectares (74,312 acres) of Crown lands that have been specially designated as enhanced management areas due to their unique features.
The project, which is within the Lake Ontario watershed and headwaters for the Bay of Quinte, is particularly critical for maintaining the water quality for local aquatic life and downstream communities, ranging from Toronto to Kingston. In addition, vast amounts of carbon are stored in forests and wetlands alike throughout the Hastings Wildlife Junction.
Over the last 150 years, many species and habitats in Canada have been declining. This decline has been more dramatic in southern Canada, especially southern Ontario, where much of the province’s population is located and where there is a long history of settlement and related agricultural, urban and industrial land uses. The significant biodiversity and ecosystem benefits, as well as the growing threat of development in this area, make this land a critical step in landscape-scale conservation in southern Ontario.
Landowner Ben Samann, founder of Land’escapes, has generously agreed to donate the majority of his property. But before NCC can accept these lands, the organization needs to raise funds to cover the remaining land cost, all associated costs for the acquisition, the creation of a property management plan, and investment in a stewardship fund to ensure this ecologically significant property is well cared for the long term.
The overall goal of the Hastings Wildlife Junction project is to protect at least 8,000 hectares (20,000 acres) over the next few years. Thanks to Samann’s sizeable land donation, and to other generous pledges from many supporters, NCC is nearly 80 per cent of the way toward its fundraising goal. The organization needs to raise a final $3.2 million by spring 2022 to complete this phase of the Hastings Wildlife Junction project. People interested in helping make this conservation dream a reality can donate online at natureconservancy.ca/hastings.
Over the next year, NCC will be undertaking inventories and consultations to help inform a long-term management plan for the property. The organization is currently working to engage with Indigenous nations and communities in the region. NCC’s aim is to ensure that all people may experience this amazing property.
“We recognize the important role community members play in stewarding this land and welcome comments from interested individuals and organizations on the future management of this critical property. We value working with neighbours, Indigenous communities, local industries and local interest groups, and look forward to meeting everyone who understands how deeply special this area is.” — Kristyn Ferguson, NCC Large Landscapes Program Director
“I’m thrilled to be donating these lands to the Nature Conservancy of Canada, given their proven ability to conserve land, manage it well and ensure that people are an integrated part of their conservation vision. The Hastings Wildlife Junction is such a special place, chock-full of wildlife, from turtles to butterflies to elk and moose, and it will no doubt benefit from NCC’s ongoing management of the site.” — Ben Samann, Land’escapes founder and current landowner
- The Algonquin to Adirondacks (A2A) region is adiverse bioregion that connects Algonquin Park to Adirondack Park through the Frontenac Arch and surrounding lands.
- The Land Between is a bioregion that extends from the Georgian Bay Coast to the Ottawa Valley.
- Size: Total project area 8,000 hectares (20,000 acres); Current opportunity 5,000 hectares (12,000 acres)
- Location: Hastings County
- Habitat type: Forests, wetlands, rivers, creeks
- Total carbon stored in total project area: 4,513,314 tonnes CO2e
- Annual carbon sequestration in total project area: 14,818 tonnes CO2e
- Species: Wide-ranging mammals including eastern wolf, black bear, moose, pine marten, successfully reintroduced elk. Several species of rare birds and turtles.
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. To learn more, visit natureconservancy.ca.
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