Hastings Wildlife Junction. Photo by Chelsea Marcantonio.

Hastings Wildlife Junction. Photo by Chelsea Marcantonio.

Rare, large conservation project in southern Ontario one step closer to reality

March 17, 2022
Hastings County, ON


Nature Conservancy of Canada announces progress in massive southern Ontario Hastings Wildlife Junction project

Efforts to conserve a provincially significant area for wildlife in southern Ontario have received a major boost.

The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) is receiving support from both the governments of Canada and Ontario to protect and care for a major wildlife corridor within the Lake Ontario watershed. 

With the governments’ funding and the support of private donors, 5,000 hectares are being protected in the Hastings Wildlife Junction, located between Belleville and Bancroft. While today’s announcement marks a significant milestone, there is more to be done. NCC’s goal is to conserve 8,000 hectares of intact forest and wetlands here, where it is exceedingly rare for large landscape-scale conservation opportunities to exist. NCC is encouraging people, businesses and foundations to help accelerate this project across the finish line by donating to the project.

By protecting this land, NCC is supporting nature in one of Canada’s most biodiverse regions. Two critical wildlife corridors converge at the Hastings Wildlife Junction. These routes, one which connects Algonquin Park to the Adirondacks, the other which connects Georgian Bay to the Kingston area, play a vital role in protecting biodiversity and allow species to move freely from one habitat to another.

This protected land offers some of the best remaining habitat in southern Ontario for species listed under Canada’s Species at Risk Act such as Blanding’s turtles (endangered) and Canada warbler (threatened). It is also home to eastern wolf, black bear, moose, pine marten, successfully reintroduced elk and rare birds. Protecting this area is also critical for maintaining the water quality for local aquatic life and downstream communities, from Belleville to Kingston. 

The Hastings Wildlife Junction project has an international, provincial and national impact. 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. 

A large portion of this land was donated by Ben Samann, founder of Land’escapes. In addition to Samann, NCC thanks many private individuals, corporations and businesses for their support. The project was also funded in part under the Government of Canada’s Natural Heritage Conservation Program (part of Canada’s Nature Fund), the Government of Ontario, through the Greenlands Conservation Partnership, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Projects such as this are a testament to NCC’s leadership in accelerating the pace of conservation in Canada. In the past two years alone, the organization has influenced the protection of more than 1 million hectares (almost twice the size of Prince Edward Island), coast to coast to coast. Over the next few years, NCC will double its impact by mobilizing Canadians and delivering more permanent, large-scale conservation. 


“When unique and incredibly rare opportunities like this arise to save large corridors of natural lands in southern Ontario, it is a call to action for all of us. The next 10 years will be the world’s decision decade for nature. In Canada, we have a rare opportunity to make a tangible difference to slow the pace of climate change and biodiversity loss. NCC’s science-based approach to conservation and our focus on creating corridors of connection are leading to big, new, exciting projects like the Hastings Wildlife Junction.” – Kristyn Ferguson, Program Director Large Landscapes, Nature Conservancy of Canada

"As a nature lover, I'm thrilled to know that these lands will be protected forever – it's amazing. The wilderness here is home to so many plant and animal species – from seldom-seen reptiles to massive elk and moose. Now is the time to act to protect them." – Ben Samann, founder, Land'escapes  

“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 and generous landowners such as Ben Samann, we are helping to protect the natural environment in Ontario and across the country. Programs like the Canada Nature Fund’s Natural Heritage Conservation Program are helping us progress toward conserving a quarter of lands and oceans in Canada by 2025.” – The Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Environment and Climate Change

“Our government is proud to work alongside dedicated partners like the Nature Conservancy of Canada to ensure we continue protecting ecologically significant natural areas and wetlands like the Hastings Wildlife Junction, which is critical to protecting the future of species at risk and their habitat. With this goal in mind, the Greenlands Conservation Partnership aims to conserve Ontario’s natural diversity and increase protected areas across the province. We are grateful for the generosity of donors like Mr. Samann and others, whose commitment to environmental protection is truly inspiring.” – David Piccini, Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks


  • The Hastings Wildlife Junction region boasts extensive interior forest (habitat located deep in the forest, secluded from the impacts of forest edge development and open habitats) with an astonishing 98 per cent natural cover, significant rivers and wetlands. The area is next to over 30,000 hectares of Crown lands that have been specially designated as enhanced management areas due to their unique features.  
  • The forests and wetlands throughout the Hastings Wildlife Junction store 4.5 million tonnes of carbon.

Learn more

To learn more about the Hastings Wildlife Junction project and how to get involved, visit natureconservancy.ca/hastings

Find photos and video here.


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

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. 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 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.

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

Andrew Holland
National Media Relations Director
Nature Conservancy of Canada
C: (506) 260-0469

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