Acquisition of globally significant habitat on Pelee Island by Nature Conservancy of Canada to receive government support



    ESSEX, ON, Nov. 25 /CNW/ - The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC), in
partnership with the Federal and Provincial governments and the local
community, today announced an opportunity to create the largest protected
natural area on Ontario's globally significant Pelee Island. The Island, which
is part of the Western Lake Erie Islands archipelago, is a biodiversity
hotspot for a myriad of bird, plant, and reptile species. The opportunity
involves the acquisition of 524 acres (212 hectares) of ecologically
significant property at Brown's Road Alvar and the adjacent Middle Point Woods
site on the northeast shore of Pelee Island. If successful, these acquisitions
will secure almost seventy percent of the Brown's Road Alvar and 100% of the
Middle Point Woods sites and create a linked area of conserved lands of more
than 760 acres (307 hectares). NCC emphasized its commitment to managing these
properties for the long-term, thereby ensuring that the conservation
investment made today maintains their globally significant habitats and
species.
    "Brown's Road Alvar contains one of only two known occurrences of
Chinquapin Oak Nodding Wild Onion Savanna in the world, and Middle Point Woods
contains globally significant freshwater sand beaches and is part of an
Important Bird Area - a critical stop-over for migratory songbirds," remarked
NCC's President, John Lounds. "If we are successful at raising an additional
$550,000 from the private sector, NCC will be able to match contributions from
the Government of Canada through the Natural Areas Conservation Program
announced in March of this year, as well as ongoing contributions from the
Ontario Government through the Greenlands Program. This will result in over
$7M in conservation action by NCC and its partners at these two sites, and
will secure and provide for the ongoing management of these areas of global
significance."
    The property acquisitions on Pelee Island are part of NCC's
implementation of its Western Lake Erie Islands Natural Area Conservation
Plan, an ambitious, comprehensive community based plan to acquire and manage a
portfolio of lands that will maintain the area's global biodiversity values.
Thanks to the new partnership with the Government of Canada - a matching funds
initiative to conserve ecologically significant lands across southern Canada
over the next five years - NCC is in a position to achieve unprecedented,
long-term success in the conservation of our natural heritage.
    "The Government of Canada is taking real action to protect Canada's
natural treasures," said Minister Baird. "Earlier this year, Prime Minister
Harper committed $225 million to support the work of the Nature Conservancy of
Canada and other conservation organizations in preserving priceless parts of
our great country. Today's announcement to set aside precious lands of Pelee
Island is just one more example that this government is taking aggressive
action to preserve our natural heritage."
    The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (OMNR) has been and continues
to be a key contributor to NCC's work on Pelee Island. By supporting property
acquisitions through the Greenlands Program, and previously through the Legacy
2000 Ontario Parks program, OMNR has continued to show their dedication to and
support of NCC's conservation efforts on Pelee Island and across Ontario.
    "The Ontario government is pleased to support the acquisition of
ecologically significant lands on Pelee Island through its partnership with
the Nature Conservancy of Canada," said Natural Resources Minister
Donna Cansfield. "Conserving Ontario's biodiversity is critical if we want to
pass on a healthy, natural environment to future generations."
    Through the Western Lake Erie Islands Natural Area Conservation Plan, NCC
has been working with the Township of Pelee, local residents, organizations
and businesses to take real and tangible action to acquire and conserve key
sites on the Island.
    "This announcement describes a cornerstone of how the Community of Pelee
Island is beginning to define itself - as a place where nature's biodiversity
is protected and people can build a sustainable economy," said Pelee Township
Mayor, Rick Masse. "Our community thanks each of the partners that are making
this possible".
    This work would also not be possible without the support of the
individual Canadians, private foundations and corporations whose donations are
used to leverage matching funds from the federal and provincial funding
programs. A portion of the Brown's Road Alvar site will be named the Florian
Diamante Nature Preserve in recognition of a major gift from the Diamante
Development Corporation and the Florian Condominium. As well, John DeMarco and
Anne Gardner of Guelph, Ontario are in the process of donating their 37-acre
(15-hectare) property at the Brown's Road Alvar site to NCC through Canada's
Ecological Gifts Program, and U.S. residents Jack and June Novatney are
donating a portion of their lands at Middle Point Woods to the Friends of the
Nature Conservancy of Canada, a U.S. based charity, making this a truly
international effort to conserve biodiversity.
    For more information on donating to or becoming involved with the
project, please contact NCC at ontario@natureconservancy.ca.

    Photographs and interviews with NCC spokespeople are available on
request.





For further information:

For further information: Laura Mousseau, Public Affairs Coordinator,
Ontario Region, Nature Conservancy of Canada, Office: 1-877-343-3532 (Toll
Free), ext. 235, Mobile: (519) 830-7770, laura.mousseau@natureconservancy.ca;
James Duncan, Associate Regional Vice President, Ontario, Nature Conservancy
of Canada, Office: (519) 640-6816, Mobile: (519) 200-8835,
james.duncan@natureconservancy.ca

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