Environment Canada

Environment Canada

September 26, 2009 10:15 ET

The Government of Canada and the Nature Conservancy of Canada Conserve Valuable Habitat on Lake Superior

WOODBRIDGE, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Sept. 26, 2009) - On behalf of Canada's Environment Minister Jim Prentice, Peter Kent, Member of Parliament for Thornhill and Minister of State for Foreign Affairs (Americas), today announced the Nature Conservancy of Canada's successful acquisition of 4,729 acres of land at Wilson Island. The land was secured in part with funding from Environment Canada's Natural Areas Conservation Program. The total project cost was $ 7,401,285. The purchase marks another achievement under the Government of Canada's $225-million Natural Areas Conservation Program.

"With our investment of $225 million in the Natural Areas Conservation Program, the Government of Canada is taking real action to protect and conserve our ecosystems and sensitive species for present and future generations," said Minister Kent. "Wilson Island is home to rare coastal wetlands and forests, bedrock shoreline, and globally rare sand beaches. We are committed to the long-term conservation of biological diversity and to working with partners such as the Nature Conservancy of Canada and others to protect Canada's natural treasures."

Wilson Island group is a cluster of eight islands. Wilson is by far the largest island, and has north-facing cliffs on water and land, canyons, raised basalt beaches and an unexplored interior. These qualities provide suitable habitat for peregrine falcons and bald eagles. The cool marine climate supports a number of arctic-alpine species and vegetation communities particular to this region. Wilson Island's coves, coldwater beaches and rare coastal wetlands provide essential habitat for lake trout and whitefish.

"The Natural Areas Conservation Program represents an investment that will help to ensure a healthy future for habitats and species at risk," said Minister Prentice. "Such programs demonstrate the importance and productive relationship between the Government of Canada, the Nature Conservancy of Canada, and other partners working to conserve and protect the environment and wildlife."

"The Wilson Island group presented an unmatched opportunity to protect large scale, ecologically significant and relatively untouched habitat," remarked the Nature Conservancy of Canada's Chris Maher, Regional Vice-President, Ontario. "This project has been on the conservation community's wish list for many years, and the joint effort to protect this island group has been crucial to its success."

The Government's Natural Areas Conservation Program is an important on-the-ground initiative that takes real action to preserve Canada's environment and conserve its precious natural heritage for present and future generations. As of March 2009, under the Natural Areas Conservation Program more than 336 properties totaling more than 256,150 acres (103,660 hectares) had been acquired, protecting habitat for over 74 species at risk.

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Natural Areas Conservation Program

In March 2007, as part of our commitment to conserve and protect Canada's natural environment, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced that the Government of Canada will invest $225 million in the new Natural Areas Conservation Program. The Program helps non-profit, non-government organizations secure ecologically sensitive lands to ensure the protection of our diverse ecosystems, wildlife and habitat.

As of March 2009, 336 properties had been acquired through the program, protecting habitat for over 74 species at risk.

To carry out the objectives of the Program, the Government of Canada entered into an agreement with the Nature Conservancy of Canada. As part of that agreement, the Nature Conservancy of Canada partners with non-government conservation organizations such as Ducks Unlimited Canada and other qualified land trusts. These organizations must provide matching funds for each federal dollar received.

Using a science-based process, the Nature Conservancy of Canada and its partners work to acquire ecologically sensitive lands through donation, purchase or stewardship agreements with private landowners.

Under the Program, priority is given to lands that are nationally or provincially significant, that protect habitat for species at risk and migratory birds, or that enhance connectivity or corridors between existing protected areas such as National Wildlife Areas, National Parks and Migratory Bird Sanctuaries.

The Natural Areas Conservation Program complements the Government's other important conservation initiatives and investments, including:

- $110 million over two years for the work under the Species at Risk Act;

- $25 million over five years for the Northwest Territories Protected Areas Strategy;

- $30 million for the Great Bear Rainforest;

- $3 million for Stanley Park in Vancouver and Point Pleasant Park in Halifax;

- Since 2007-2008 the Habitat Stewardship Program has invested $19 million to support over 350 local projects for the protection of species at risk and their habitat;

- Environment Canada's Protected Areas Network, made up of 51 National Wildlife Areas and 92 Migratory Bird Sanctuaries; and

- the Ecological Gifts Program, which provides tax incentives to landowners who donate land title or place a conservation easement on ecologically sensitive land. In its May 2006 budget, the Government of Canada increased the incentive for land donations by reducing the taxable capital gains inclusion rate for certified ecological gift donations from 25 per cent to zero.

The Natural Areas Conservation Program is an important on-the-ground initiative that takes real action to preserve our environment. It is expected to result in the long-term protection of up to more than 2,000 square kilometres of ecologically sensitive land across Canada.

Contact Information

  • Office of the Minister of the Environment
    Frederic Baril
    Press Secretary
    Environment Canada
    Media Relations