Wetland and forest protected by NCC in Clarendon, Quebec (Photo by Mike Dembeck)

Wetland and forest protected by NCC in Clarendon, Quebec (Photo by Mike Dembeck)

My best-behaved neighbour lives in my backyard... and it's a turtle!

September 29, 2021


The northern map turtle populates the shores all around the greater Montreal area, even in very urbanized areas. Considered as an at-risk species in Quebec, this turtle is an important link in the life of our waterways. To help it, the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) has implemented initiatives to raise awareness and restore the environment. 

Small gestures with a big impact for turtles

“Small improvements in turtle habitat can make a big difference. However, to achieve this, biologists must have access to the shoreline habitat, much of which is privately owned. For this reason, collaboration of shoreline property owners with conservation organizations is essential to the recovery of the Northern Map Turtle,” says Annie Ferland, project manager at the Nature Conservancy of Canada for the Montreal Greenbelt.

By leaving a few metres of wild vegetation growing along the shoreline, homeowners can provide a rich environment for a variety of animals to thrive. Leaving partially emerged dead trunks in place creates natural basking sites for turtles, and the sparsely vegetated shoreline serves as a nesting site where they can bury their eggs. Leaving these areas in their natural state can help ensure the survival of not only turtles, but also birds, insects, frogs and many others.

In the Outaouais and Montérégie regions, homeowners who have worked with NCC have totally changed their perspective on their shoreline. They have agreed to share their stories in this video to inspire others to do the same. The spotlight is now on the Greater Montreal area, and NCC is calling on the city's shoreline property owners.

Small gestures with a big impact for humans

By choosing to keep shorelines intact, municipalities and individuals also take advantage of what nature has to offer. Riparian vegetation has the ability to regulate water levels during floods and to prevent bank erosion. Erosion occurs when there are no roots left in the soil to hold it in place and, year after year, sand and soil are washed away by the current. In addition, shoreline vegetation helps maintain good water quality for swimmers. Encouraging animals to inhabit our shoreline also has benefits; they are quiet neighbours and are fascinating to observe!

The best steps to take

  • Report your turtle observations on Carapace.ca; they allow NCC to better target its actions.
  • Leave dead branches and trunks near the water where they belong; it's an open suntanning invitation for turtles!
  • Always be alert during your water adventures! Turtles are often injured by boats, so reduce your speed near the shore and in shallow water.
  • Never disturb or move a turtle. First, because they can bite, but more importantly because if you keep them in captivity or release them into another environment, they may never reproduce. This is why we need to adapt to the turtles on our land, not relocate them.


This project was made possible through the financial contributions of several partners: the Government of Canada, through the Community Interaction Program; the Government of Quebec, through the Partenariat pour les milieux naturels project of the Ministère de l'Environnement et de la Lutte contre les changements climatiques; the US Fish & Wildlife Service under the North American Wetlands Conservation Act; and the Fondation de la Faune du Québec.

NCC would like to thank its project partners, including the Groupe de mise en œuvre du rétablissement de la tortue géographique, the Ecomuseum, the city of Montreal, Nature-Action Québec and Éco-Nature/Parc de la Rivière-des-Mille-Îles. We also thank Éric Chalifoux and Julie Jolivet for their testimony in the video, as well as all the individuals across Quebec taking care of their shorelines or participating in the restoration of the habitats of the 7 species of turtles in Quebec. We also thank the ministère des Forêts, de la Faune et des Parcs du Québec for their collaboration in the Équipe de rétablissement des tortues du Québec, which NCC is part of.

In memory of Éric Chalifoux (1951-2021). An environmentalist at heart, he recognized the bounty of the earth and of nature, but also its great fragility. Since his retirement, his heart beats to the rhythm of the seasons and he endeavoured to accomplish small gestures in harmony with nature to make a difference. Thank you for your precious participation and your inspiring testimonial. "I'm not revolutionizing Pike River, that's for sure. But if I and dozens of others do the same thing, I'm positive it will have an impact."


The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) is Canada'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 has helped to protect 14 million hectares (35 million acres) coast to coast to coast, including 48,000 hectares (close to 118,600 acres) in Quebec. To learn more, visit natureconservancy.ca.

The Community Interaction Program (CIP) is a financial assistance program that supports community-based projects to conserve and improve the St. Lawrence ecosystem. As part of the St. Lawrence Action Plan (SLAP 2011-2026), Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) and the Ministère de l'Environnement et de la Lutte contre les changements climatiques du Québec (MELCC) are implementing this program

The Projet de partenariat pour les milieux naturels (PPMN) is a four-year grant of more than $53 millions from the Ministère de l'Environnement et de la Lutte contre les changements climatiques to NCC. It provides support for voluntary conservation initiatives to ensure the protection of natural areas of interest by establishing financial partnerships with conservation organizations in the province. The PPMN thus aims to develop and consolidate Québec's network of protected areas located on private land. It follows the Ensemble pour la nature project, which ended on March 31, 2020, and had similar objectives.

The North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) is a program administered by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

The mission of the Fondation de la faune du Québec is to promote the conservation and enhancement of wildlife and its habitats. Thanks to the contribution of more than one million hunters, fishermen and trappers in Quebec, thousands of donors, and numerous private companies, the Foundation has supported more than 2,000 organizations throughout Quebec since 1987, creating a true wildlife movement.

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Elizabeth Sbaglia
Communications Manager, Quebec Region
Nature Conservancy of Canada
1 877-876-5444 x6240

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