Nature Conservancy of Canada applauds new initiative to conserve 500,000 acres of ecologically significant lands across Canada



    KING CITY, ON, March 14 /CNW/ - The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) is
heading up a new government land conservation initiative announced today by
Prime Minister Stephen Harper. NCC will be working with Ducks Unlimited Canada
(DUC) and other partners towards the conservation of 500,000 acres -- an area
more than three times the size of Metro Toronto -- of ecologically significant
lands across southern Canada. A $225 million investment by the Government of
Canada will be matched dollar for dollar with contributions raised by NCC and
its partner organizations.
    "This public-private partnership represents a major step forward for
science-based habitat conservation in Canada," said John Lounds, President and
CEO of NCC. "In the context of our national conservation challenges, this is
significant progress. We are delighted that the government has made a strong,
brand new commitment to the protection of our natural heritage and that it has
chosen to partner with us to undertake this critical work."
    NCC, DUC and other members of the Canadian Land Trust Alliance will work
with landowners and communities to conserve critical lands nationwide. This
initiative will build on the strong alliance between these conservation
groups, a working relationship that has resulted in the conservation of
millions of acres of endangered habitats over the past several decades.
    "The beauty of this initiative is that it will help us leverage even more
funds for wetland conservation," said Gord Edwards, Executive Vice-President,
DUC. "As a conservation organization concerned with the accelerated rate of
wetland loss across Canada, DUC is encouraged by the federal government's
leadership in designating these funds to private land conservation."
    The key natural areas targeted for conservation through this program have
been identified as priorities by NCC and DUC based on detailed scientific
ecological assessments. They encompass all regions across the country, from
mountain meadows and prairie grasslands to central woodlands, wetlands and
maritime shorelines.
    "This investment will result in the long-term protection of Canada's
natural treasures," said Prime Minister Harper. "We are taking concrete action
to protect species at risk and their habitat."

    The Nature Conservancy of Canada is a national non-profit conservation
organization that works with landowners to protect Canada's natural habitats.
Its plan of action is to build partnerships and develop creative conservation
solutions with individuals, corporations, community groups, conservation
groups and government bodies. Since 1962, NCC and its supporters have helped
to protect more than 1.9 million acres (765,000 hectares) of ecologically
significant land across Canada.

    Ducks Unlimited Canada is a Canadian, private, non-profit, charitable
organization that conserves, restores and manages wetlands and their
associated habitats for North America's waterfowl, other wildlife and people.
Guided by leading-edge science, and active in every province and territory,
DUC is supported by over 162,000 Canadians who are characterized by their love
of Canada's great outdoors. Since 1938, DUC and its partners have conserved
12.5 million acres (5 million hectares) of habitat as well as enhanced the
waterfowl and wildlife benefits of millions of acres of habitat through its
influence.

    B-roll of sample NCC conservation areas available upon request.

    B-roll of sample DUC conservation areas available upon request.

    
                                 BACKGROUNDER
                                 ------------

                       THE NATURE CONSERVANCY OF CANADA
    

    The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) is a national, non-profit
conservation organization that works to protect Canada's most ecologically
significant natural habitats. Our mission is to protect areas of biological
diversity for their intrinsic value and for the benefit of future generations.
We work with individual landowners, community stakeholders and other
conservation organizations and partners to secure lands through outright
purchase, land donations and conservation easements.

    NCC's work

    NCC uses the best available conservation science to guide our efforts to
protect areas of essential biological diversity. We apply a science-based
Conservation Framework to guide our planning, land securement and land
management activities. This Framework entails setting priorities, planning
sites, conservation action and measuring success.
    Because of the intersection of biodiversity and threat, much of NCC's
work is focused in southern Canada. As pressures increase on these
ecologically significant lands, we are turning to larger-scale projects. NCC
has invested more than $2.5 million in the development of Conservation
Blueprints (or ecoregional plans) for Southern Canada - assessments that are
used to define the natural areas that matter most to Canada's natural
heritage.
    Within these larger-scale projects, detailed conservation plans are
developed to identify individual properties targeted for securement, establish
long-term land management plans and engage the community.

    
    Why land conservation is important

    -   Natural lands are vital to Canada's ecological integrity, clean air
        and water. Conserving these areas contributes to the health and well-
        being of all Canadians.

        Some of our country's most important natural areas are in southern
        Canada. More than 70% of Canada's species at risk are found on 10% of
        the land along the Canada-U.S. border. This is the same 10% where 90%
        of Canada's population lives and works, and where much of the land is
        privately owned.

    -   Canada's natural areas are part of our national identity. Conserved
        lands are a real and lasting expression of Canada's commitment to
        ensuring a legacy for future generations.
    

    NCC's approach

    The effective conservation of Canada's biological diversity is not
achievable by one organization alone. The scope and urgency of our mission
requires that we develop and maintain alliances with many different sectors to
work toward a common goal. Each NCC project brings together a range of
partners that may include individual landowners, community groups, other
conservation groups and land trusts, corporations, foundations and government.
    NCC empowers Canadians, showing how they can take direct action to save
the lands and wildlife that make this country great. NCC is rooted in
communities and has a strong foundation of local community involvement.
Engaging landowners in conservation is key to addressing the issue of
ecological integrity around parks and protected areas and on a broader scale.
Our conservation results are based on positive, collaborative relationships
with local landowners, enabling compatible land uses such as ranching, to
continue.

    NCC's scope

    NCC works across Canada, both regionally and nationally. Our 21 regional
and community offices are highly effective at developing partnerships, raising
funds and implementing long-term conservation projects within the context of
overall national direction.
    Over 100 key volunteers (respected scientists, community leaders,
business executives and other professionals) serve on NCC's boards and
committees to assist with setting priorities and raising funds. NCC is a
strong nationwide organization with over 32,000 supporters from coast to
coast.

    NCC's progress

    Established in 1962, NCC is Canada's leading land conservation
organization focused on biodiversity conservation. We've experienced
exceptional growth since 1998: our number of land transactions per year has
almost tripled to over 140; yearly revenue increased from approx. $8 million
to over $55 million; and our individual supporter base quadrupled to 32,000.
    NCC produces results you can walk on forever. We have helped to conserve
more than 1.9 million acres of ecologically significant land across Canada
since 1962. Last year alone, NCC secured over 46,056 acres -- land valued at
over $45 million, home to 121 species at risk.
    NCC conservation projects span every region in Canada, from globally
important wetlands on the Atlantic coast and centuries-old forests in central
Canada, to endangered prairies and prime mountain wildlife habitats in the
West.

    
                      For more information on NCC visit
                           www.natureconservancy.ca
    




For further information:

For further information: Sylvie Charland, Media and Public Relations,
Nature Conservancy of Canada, (416) 932-3202 Ext. 252,
sylvie.charland@natureconservancy.ca, www.natureconservancy.ca; Leigh
Patterson, National Media Relations Specialist, Ducks Unlimited Canada, (204)
467-3306, l_patterson@ducks.ca, www.ducks.ca

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Nature Conservancy of Canada

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