Government of Canada

Government of Canada
Governernment of Saskatchewan

February 29, 2008 17:12 ET

Canada, Saskatchewan and the Nature Conservancy: Working Together to Protect Saskatchewan's Natural Treasures

REGINA, SASKATCHEWAN--(Marketwire - Feb. 29, 2008) - Canada's Environment Minister John Baird, was joined by Saskatchewan Environment Minister Nancy Heppner, and Lyle Saigeon from the Nature Conservancy of Canada where they announced the protection of important habitat on the Big Valley Property in the Qu'Appelle Valley region of Saskatchewan. Today's announcement is part of the Government of Canada's $225 million Natural Areas Conservation Program.

"The Government of Canada is taking real action to protect Canada's natural treasures," said Minister Baird. "Prime Minister Harper committed $225 million to support the work of the Nature Conservancy of Canada and other conservation organizations in preserving precious parts of our great country. Today's announcement to set aside lands in the environmentally significant Qu'Appelle Valley region is just another example of how our government is taking action to protect and preserve our natural heritage."

The Big Valley Property, totaling 136 hectares (336 acres) and worth more than $490,000 is home to one of Saskatchewan's most diverse plant and animal communities. The property is adjacent to a large marsh listed by the provincial Conservation Data Centre as a major concentration site for migratory birds.

"Saskatchewan is filled with great natural spaces, and protecting this land in the Qu'Appelle Valley is priceless in terms of the benefit it provides to our species at risk and their habitat," said Agriculture and Agri-food Minister for Saskatchewan Gerry Ritz. "Through our Natural Areas Conservation Program, the federal government is playing a lead role in conserving and protecting our environment for the benefit of all Canadians."

Ducks, geese, swans, pelicans and gulls can all be found in large numbers in both spring and fall. Several nationally and provincially listed species at risk, including the Northern Leopard frog, the Monarch butterfly, the Burrowing Owl and the Sprague's Pipit, have been recorded in southern Saskatchewan.

"The Government of Saskatchewan is pleased to partner with the Government of Canada and the Nature Conservancy of Canada to preserve this environmentally significant land in the Qu'Appelle Valley," said Minister Heppner. "This demonstrates our commitment to protect and conserve our natural resources across the province."

The 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. The Program is expected to result in the long-term protection of more than 200,000 hectares, or half a million acres, of ecologically sensitive land across southern Canada.

"Thanks to the Government of Canada's generous contribution, in concert with tremendous ongoing support from Saskatchewan's Ministry of Environment and our many corporate and private donors, achievements like Big Valley continue to build on our conservation successes across Canada," remarked Lyle Saigeon, Regional Vice President for NCC in Saskatchewan.

Government of Canada protects and preserves the environment with 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 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.

In order 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 will partner 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 2 years for the work under the Species at Risk Act;

* $10 million 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;

* the Habitat Stewardship Program, which has invested $19M for the last two years to support over 350 local projects for the protection of species at risk and their habitat;

* Government of 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 land owners 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 half a million acres of ecologically sensitive land across southern Canada.

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Contact Information

  • Office of the Minister of the Environment
    Eric Richer
    Press Secretary
    Environment Canada
    Media Relations