Backus Woods, ON (Photo by Neil Ever Osborne)

Backus Woods, ON (Photo by Neil Ever Osborne)

Ontario species at risk get increased protection

December 17, 2018
Port Rowan, ON


Conservation groups unite to protect lands in Norfolk County

The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) and Long Point Basin Land Trust (LPBLT) today announced the protection of four sites totalling 145 hectares (358 acres). These expand an important conservation area near Port Rowan, just north of Lake Erie.

The purchased lands are a mix of forests, ravines, cold-water creeks, fields and meadows. They provide habitat for many federally listed species at risk, including birds like Acadian flycatcher (endangered), eastern whip-poor-will (threatened), prothonotary warbler (endangered) and monarch (special concern).

By purchasing these sites, NCC and LPBLT are protecting important sources of clean drinking water that flow into Lake Erie, including a stretch of Venison Creek and its tributaries.

Two of these sites increase the buffer around Backus Woods, which is widely recognized as the best remaining example of older-growth Carolinian forest habitat in Canada and is a popular hiking spot.

The two organizations will work together to care for and manage the conservation properties, which are located in the Carolinian Life Zone — a critical ecosystem that extends northward from the Carolinas to its northernmost point in southwestern Ontario.

The properties are also within the Long Point World Biosphere Reserve Area of Cooperation and Norfolk Forests Important Bird Area. 

Norfolk County is home to more than 45 provincially, nationally or globally rare plants and animals, one of the highest densities of rare and endangered wildlife in Canada.

These projects were generously supported by funding from the Government of Canada, through the Natural Areas Conservation Program.  These funds were matched with a number of generous donations from SC Johnson, Frank Charles Miller, Mary and Jack Gingrich, Joyce Beare-Rogers, Richard M. Ivey, The Rogers Foundation, Galin Foundation, The Walter J. Blackburn Foundation, The Gosling Foundation, Anne and Dolf Wynia, David Agro and Willa Wong, James N. Allan Family Foundation, Echo Foundation, The McLean Foundation, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, through the North American Wetlands Conservation Act, and many additional generous donors.

Please refer to the attached fact sheet for additional information on the importance of this natural area.


“The Norfolk area has some spectacular natural spaces that are incredibly important to the local community and attract outdoor enthusiasts from near and far. From protecting our water resources and restoring habitat for pollinators and birds, to creating opportunities for Canadians to get outside and enjoy nature, the Nature Conservancy of Canada, along with Long Point Basin Land Trust and other key partners and generous supporters, is committed to ensuring that the nature we protect today will be here for generations.” ~ Wendy Cridland, Acting Regional Vice-president, Ontario, Nature Conservancy of Canada

“The Board of Long Point Basin Land Trust is thrilled to be jointly announcing with NCC recent acquisitions of conservation lands in Norfolk. The 20 hectares (49 acres) secured by LPBLT has been named to recognize one of the founding members of LPBLT, Ken McMullen, who passed away recently. Ken would be pleased to see this particular property with its many natural history values and the additional NCC parcels protected in perpetuity." ~ Peter Carson, President, Long Point Basin Land Trust

“With the help of partners like the Nature Conservancy of Canada and Long Point Basin Land Trust, our government is making progress toward doubling the amount of protected nature across Canada’s lands and oceans. Nature is central to our Canadian identity, and it’s important for organizations and private groups across Canada to take the initiative now to ensure our kids and grandkids can connect to nature and experience its wonder.”  Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change

Video and images


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 more than 1.1 million hectares (2.8 million acres), coast to coast, with more than 82,000 hectares (200,000 acres) in Ontario. To learn more, visit

Established in 1996, Long Point Basin Land Trust is a charitable, non-government organization whose mission is to protect and restore functioning ecosystems in the Long Point Basin, an area located in the central Carolinian region. This mission is achieved through land securement, land stewardship, and species at risk recovery activities. LPBLT owns and stewards nine nature reserve properties in Norfolk County, totaling 195 hectares (483 acres) protected in perpetuity. For more information, visit

The Government of Canada's Natural Areas Conservation Program (NACP) is a unique public-private partnership to accelerate the pace of land conservation across southern Canada. The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) manages the program. Federal funds are matched by contributions raised by NCC and its partners. Habitat conserved under the NACP enhances natural corridors and other protected areas.

Norfolk County Conservation Projects Fact Sheet

  • The Southern Norfolk Sand Plain natural area is a high priority for the Nature Conservancy of Canada. It draws visitors from near and far to enjoy hiking, skiing, birding and other outdoor recreational pursuits. 
  • To date, NCC has conserved more than 2,266 hectares (5,606 acres) of this unique ecosystem.
  • The new conservation lands are part of Environment and Climate Change Canada’s proposed priority place, Long Point Walsingham Forest.
  • The Long Point World Biosphere Reserve Area of Cooperation and the Norfolk Forests Important Bird Area have a rich blend of habitats that support some of Canada’s highest concentrations of biodiversity.  
  • Comprising less than one per cent of the country’s land mass, Carolinian Canada is home to 25 per cent of our country’s species at risk, including several species found only in the lower Great Lakes Basin, and a number of globally declining species. The region is also home to 25 per cent of Canada’s population (the fourth largest population centre in North America), extensive agricultural lands, a high concentration of industry and the largest trade corridor between Canada and the United States. 
  • Generations of Norfolk County farmers and other rural landowners have been good stewards of the county’s lands and waters. NCC is proud to work in partnership with local groups and individuals to ensure the protection and management of key conservation lands. 
  • Backus Woods has over 21 kilometres of trails and is open year-round.

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Media Contact:

Nicole Senyi
Communications Manager
Ontario Region
C: 416-937-5079

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