The Nature Conservancy of Canada acquired a property at Tusket River, Nova Scotia as part of its ongoing efforts to protect private lands. It is a major player in the new project. (Mike Dembeck)

Canada boosts conservation of habitats in private hands


There are people across Canada who strive try to protect ecologically sensitive landscapes they own, and now, they may get help from a new program funded by the Canadian government. It has pledged a $100 million program that will result in the conservation of 200,000 hectares of land that are home to species at risk.

In some cases private land will be donated. In others it will bought or an agreement will be struck with landowners to ensure the land is protected from future development. This is a model already extensively used by the Nature Conservancy of Canada which will be a major player in this Natural Heritage Conservation Program, working with other conservation groups.

Lands that will be protected are located in southern Canada, as is this property at Abrams Village in Prince Edward Island. (Sean Landsman)

A focus on ‘where we’re losing wildlife species’

“So, the types of places that we’re going to be focused on will be southern Canada, where nature in Canada is disappearing the most rapidly, where we’re losing wildlife species,” says Dan Kraus, a senior biologist with the Nature Conservancy of Canada. “We’ll be looking at protecting places that harbour endangered species, also looking at creating corridors or linkages for wildlife between some of our existing provincial and national parks as well.”

This initiative will contribute to Canada’s goal to protect 17 per cent of land and freshwater by the year 2020. To date, Canada has only protected 11 per cent.

The focus will be on forested lands, wetlands, and other areas of rich biodiversity. (Nature Conservancy of Canada)

Nature provides many services

Kraus thinks that people are increasingly aware of the importance of protecting nature. “A lot of the places that the Nature Conservancy has protected in southern Canada and a lot of the places that we will protect under the Natural Heritage Conservation Program, they’re not just important for nature. They have rare species, they support migratory birds, but they also provide what scientists sometimes call ecological services (or) benefits to communities.

“They’re certainly places where people can go and enjoy nature…but things like wetlands provide important services like holding back floodwaters, forests…cool the air and absorb pollution. So. these are places that are important not just from a perspective of wildlife and ecosystems, but also for the well-being of Canadians in the future.”

Dan Kraus explains how important habitats will be protected under Canada’s new Natural Heritage Conservation Program.

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