Happy Birthday Canada! The Nature Conservancy of Canada announces 10 Gifts to
Canadians - lands protected in honour of Canada Day

CALGARY, June 21 /CNW/ -

NEWS

The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) today announced the protection of 10 exceptional natural areas - Gifts to Canadians in celebration of our nation's 143rd birthday. The gifts, one in each province, have been secured to safeguard natural habitat for many species at risk. Together they cover 12.5 square kilometers - more than three times the size of Stanley Park.

The gifts range from salt marshes and a rare haven for songbirds in Newfoundland, to magnificent tall trees on Prince Edward Island. From threatened native grasslands in Saskatchewan to spectacular cliffs that rise over Vancouver Island's Cowichan Bay, these are lands that Canadians love. They are lasting gifts that will be cared for to ensure a natural legacy for generations to come.

The ninth annual Gifts to Canadians is part of NCC's ongoing efforts to celebrate and conserve Canada's biodiversity from coast to coast. Regional events will be held across the country all week long.

Partnership is at the heart of NCC's work. Many partners have come together to help secure these 10 properties. But this year, each Gift to Canadians has also been made possible through the Government of Canada's Natural Areas Conservation Program. This unique public-private partnership helps non-government organizations secure ecologically sensitive lands to ensure the protection of our country's diverse ecosystems, wildlife and habitat.

Since its inception in 2007 the Natural Areas Conservation Program has helped NCC to conserve more than 342,500 acres (138,600 hectares), protecting habitat for more than 79 species at risk.

QUOTES

"In this International Year of Biodiversity we are delighted to be able to offer these birthday gifts to Canadians," said John Lounds, president and CEO of the Nature Conservancy of Canada. "These conservation success stories will result in the protection of landscapes that represent the truly diverse nature of Canada - from mountains and forests, to grasslands, wetlands and sandy beaches. These are places that will be protected for all time - gifts that will last forever, for all Canadians."

"The partnership between the Government of Canada and the Nature Conservancy of Canada has produced great results over the last three years which is why I am proud to be here today to join Mr. Lounds in launching this year's Gifts to Canadians," said Minister Prentice. "Under our government's $225-million Natural Areas Conservation Program, over 630 land transactions have been successfully negotiated across the country, helping protect and conserve our ecosystems and sensitive species for present and future generations."

    
    FACTS

    -  For a complete list of the 10 Gifts to Canadians, visit:
       www.natureconservancy.ca/Gifts2010
    -  This year's Gifts to Canadians properties protect habitat for bird
       species such as: Bald Eagle, Piping Plover, Pileated Woodpecker,
       Loggerhead Shrike, Burrowing Owl, and Sprague's Pipit.
    -  Plant species protected include: Eastern Prairie Fringed-orchid,
       Northern White Cedar, Western Yew, Garry Oak and Lodgepole Pine.
    -  Natural lands, clean air and water are vital to Canada's ecological
       integrity and our national identity. Conserving these areas
       contributes to the health and well-being of all Canadians.
    -  Many of the protected properties provide vital links to larger
       landscapes, creating networks of protected areas that give species the
       room to survive and thrive, especially in the face of climate change.
    -  More than 85 percent of NCC's resources are spent on the direct on the
       ground conservation of natural habitat and species at risk.
    -  The Government of Canada's Natural Areas Conservation Program is an
       important conservation initiative that is expected to result in the
       long-term protection of more than 2,000 square kilometres of
       ecologically sensitive lands across Canada.
    

LEARN MORE

The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) is the nation's leading private land conservation organization, working to protect our valuable natural areas and the plants and animals they sustain.

Since 1962, NCC and its partners have helped to protect more than 2 million acres (800,000 hectares) coast to coast. By investing in conservation we are ensuring that our natural world remains a home for wildlife, a haven for recreation and a vital resource that cleans the air we breathe and the water we drink. Through strong partnerships NCC works to safeguard our natural areas so that our children and grandchildren will have the chance to enjoy them.

www.natureconservancy.ca

Gifts to Canadians details www.natureconservancy.ca/Gifts2010

/NOTE TO PHOTO EDITORS: A photo accompanying this release is available at http://photos.newswire.ca. Images are free to accredited members of the media/

SOURCE Nature Conservancy of Canada

For further information: For further information: Reena Kudhail, Media Relations Coordinator, Nature Conservancy of Canada, (416) 932-0050 ext. 252, reena.kudhail@natureconservancy.ca

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