Wood turtle (Photo by Carole Houde)

Wood turtle (Photo by Carole Houde)

From hatching to mating: The Nature Conservancy of Canada protects the wood turtle’s life cycle

May 17, 2022
Shawinigan, QC

 

World Turtle Day is May 23

The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) is today announcing the protection of two critical habitats for at-risk wood turtles in the Mauricie region. Covered in forest-lined riversides and wetlands, these properties offer much-needed habitat for wood turtles to feed and find mates, as well as a critical nesting site for the survival of this species in Canada. Covering 115 hectares, the two sites are part of an ecological corridor linking them to surrounding wood turtle habitats, including La Mauricie National Park and other NCC-protected areas. This connectivity allows wood turtles and other animals to migrate and ultimately meet their survival needs.

Protecting wood turtle populations is critical to overall ecosystem health. These reptiles act as wetland janitors, eating dead plants, insects and animals, helping to clean the ecosystems around them. With a lifespan of over 50 years and their signature unhurried manner, wood turtles are notorious for taking their time to find the perfect place to lay their eggs — sometimes exploring a site for days before deciding on a nesting place. Given that very few wood turtles make it to adulthood, a slight increase in their mortality rate due to human activity, such as turtle road collisions, could lead to the population’s decline. That’s why protection efforts in the Mauricie region are key to the recovery of the species, which is designated vulnerable in Quebec and threatened in Canada.

This announcement showcases how NCC is accelerating the pace of conservation in Canada. In the past two years alone, NCC 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, the organization will double its impact by mobilizing Canadians and delivering permanent, large-scale conservation.

In the face of rapid biodiversity loss and climate change, nature is our ally. There is no solution to either without nature conservation. When nature thrives, we all thrive.

Quotes

“This project is a feat of collaboration between partners, including private companies, local organizations and government. It goes to show that by working together we can protect species that are at risk and vital to our ecosystems, like the wood turtle. We’re extremely grateful for our partners’ dedication because we could never accomplish this alone.” – Gabrielle Cauchon Déry, Project Manager for the Mauricie Region, Nature Conservancy of Canada

“It is essential that we protect Quebec’s wetlands and water environments in order to conserve a variety of plant and animal species. These important ecosystems perform a wide range of ecological roles and serve as a refuge for several species, some of which are at risk. I’m proud to see that the funds granted to NCC as part of the Partenariat pour les milieux naturels (PPMN) project have allowed the organization to acquire areas that will benefit wood turtles and protect an ecological corridor. These protected spaces will help to ensure the survival of this at-risk species.” – Benoit Charette, Minister of the Environment and the Fight Against Climate Change, Minister Responsible for the Fight Against Racism, and Minister Responsible for the Laval Region

“We’re committed to playing a key role in protecting biodiversity. We’re therefore delighted to help wood turtles by granting a conservation agreement on an important property for this threatened and vulnerable species. We’re also very proud to be involved in building structures that will help monitor and protect the turtles on this property conserved by the Nature Conservancy of Canada. We sincerely hope this project is the first in a series of collaborative efforts among partners to preserve biodiversity and natural areas.” – Julie Hébert, Director of the Environment Division, Eurovia Québec CSP

“Recognizing the importance of ecological connectivity to conservation, we are happy to share our expertise with partners like the Nature Conservancy of Canada to improve the connection between protected areas like La Mauricie National Park and surrounding landscapes. Together, we are protecting our natural environment in Québec and across the country and building a healthier and more resilient future. Programs like the Canada Nature Fund’s Natural Heritage Conservation Program and the Habitat Stewardship Program are helping us progress toward conserving a quarter of the land and a quarter of the oceans in Canada by 2025.” – The Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada

“It’s been almost 25 years since my ministry first began studying this turtle population and taking steps to protect it. Today I’m very proud to witness the completion of this project, thanks to a remarkable collaboration among all stakeholders. It is a huge step towards ensuring the long-term survival of the species.” – Pierre Dufour, Minister of Forests, Wildlife and Parks; Minister Responsible for the Abitibi-Témiscamingue Region and the Nord-du-Québec Region; Member for Abitibi-Est

Facts

  • Parks Canada’s experts at La Mauricie National Park will monitor wood turtles on the new NCC-protected sites.
  • Ecological corridors are more important than ever, with animals found to be migrating north at a rate of 45 kilometres per decade due to climate change.
  • Everyone can help reduce turtle road collisions. To learn more about turtle collisions and road safety, visit carapace.ca.

Acknowledgements

This project was made possible by:

  • The Quebec government, through funding from the ministère de l’Environnement et de la Lutte contre les changements climatiques to NCC’s Projet de partenariat pour les milieux naturels, and thanks to the ministère des Forêts, de la Faune et des Parcs;
  • Construction DJL inc.;
  • The Government of Canada through the Natural Heritage Conservation Program, part of Canada’s Nature Fund, the Habitat Stewardship Program, La Mauricie National Park and the National Program for Ecological Corridors (Parks Canada);
  • Fondation de la faune du Québec; and
  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (through the North American Wetlands Conservation Act).

About

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 conserve and restore more than 15 million hectares. In Quebec, nearly 50 thousand hectares have been protected. With nature we build a thriving world. To learn more, visit natureconservancy.ca.

The Projet de partenariat pour les milieux naturels (PPMN) is a four-year grant of more than $53 million 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 goals.

The Ministère des Forêts, de la Faune et des Parcs assumes the sustainable management of public forests and wildlife for the benefit of the citizens of Québec. Particularly in southern Québec, the Ministère aims to ensure the long-term maintenance of biodiversity and the conservation of species and habitats while promoting ecosystem enhancement. As part of its mission, it collaborates with multiple community partners.

Construction DJL inc. and Eurovia Québec Construction inc. are subsidiaries of the VINCI group, a world leader in urban development and the construction of transport infrastructure. In the face of today’s environmental challenges, VINCI is stepping up efforts to reduce its impact, reinvent its practices and create innovative solutions. The Group hopes to play an important role in the ecological transition that is transforming community life, infrastructure and mobility.

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.

Parks Canada protects a vast network of cultural and natural heritage places that include 174 national historic sites, 47 national parks, five national marine conservation areas and one national urban park. Under the Species at Risk Act (SARA), Parks Canada is responsible for the protection and recovery of listed species found in national parks, national marine conservation areas and national historic sites. Through the National Program for Ecological Corridors, Parks Canada will support ecological corridors initiatives by partners and stakeholders in key areas across Canada.

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.

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

This project is part of the Quebec Ecological Corridors Initiative. With a collective approach to land use planning, it aims to increase the conservation of natural environments connected by ecological corridors. The initiative brings together municipalities, citizens who own woodlots, farmers and other local partners, all of whom play a key role in the use of land. To this end, mobilization, capacity building, recognition and support activities are carried out in 11 regions of Quebec. The initiative is coordinated by the Nature Conservancy of Canada, implemented by 10 organizations and supported by some hundred experts.

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Media Contact:

Anne Guay
Communications and Marketing Officer
Nature Conservancy of Canada
1 877-876-5444 x6223

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