Nature Conservancy of Canada declares a Canada Day that's for the Birds



    Important bird habitats among ten birthday Gifts to Canadians

    TORONTO, June 29 /CNW/ - The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) presents
ten biodiversity hotspots as part of its annual Gifts to Canadians for Canada
Day. Leading up to July 1, NCC has announced the conservation of one
ecologically significant property in each province, totalling approximately
16 square kilometres (3,937 acres or 1,593 hectares). Each of the Gifts to
Canadians across the country provides habitat for many rare and endangered
wildlife species, with bird species being one of the primary beneficiaries
this year.
    NCC's Gifts to Canadians are part of the organization's ongoing effort to
celebrate and protect Canada's biodiversity from coast to coast and leave a
lasting natural legacy for future generations. Once a property is secured, NCC
develops detailed Property Management Plans to ensure that the site's natural
integrity is maintained and conserved for the long term.
    "Piping Plover, Sandhill Crane, Sprague's Pipit....a wide variety of rare
and endangered birds across the nation have something more to sing about this
Canada Day," says John Lounds, President and CEO of NCC. "What better way to
celebrate our nation than by protecting the spectacular lands and wildlife
that our country is known for around the world."

    NCC's Gifts to Canadians for Canada Day 2007 are:

    Ogilvie Ranch, British Columbia: an ecological treasure in the ranching
    and recreational heartland of BC, this protected ranch provides breeding
    grounds for endangered Sandhill Cranes and habitat for a variety of other
    wildlife including over 70 bird species and many large-ranging mammals.

    Cairns Property, Alberta: characterized by native grasslands, shrub lands
    and saline lakes, this site features an abundance of wildlife, especially
    migratory birds. It is significant habitat for a number of endangered
    species such as Piping Plover.

    Echo Creek, Saskatchewan: part of the ecologically rich Qu'Appelle River
    Valley, this property is a haven for provincially significant and
    imperiled wildlife and many species of birds such as Sprague's Pipit,
    Loggerhead Shrike, Western Meadowlark and Red-tailed Hawk.

    Schepp Property, Manitoba: a wildlife corridor connecting Duck Mountain
    Provincial Park and Riding Mountain National Park, this site is
    especially important for large mammals such as Grey Wolf, Black Bear and
    Cougar.

    Minesing Wetlands, Ontario: one of the largest and most diverse wetland
    complexes in southern Ontario, this area provides habitat for several
    significant species. It is also home to one of the largest and oldest
    Great Blue Heron colonies in the province, with more than 200 active
    nests.

    Lac-à-la-Tortue, Québec: this is the largest wetland in the St. Lawrence
    Valley ecoregion, with a peat bog that forms a major network of habitats
    for many threatened and vulnerable species such as Four-toed Salamander,
    White Fringed Orchid and Twin-scaped Bladderwort.

    Tern Island, New Brunswick: this island in the Tabusintac Estuary is home
    to the second largest Common Tern colony in Atlantic Canada. Thousands of
    waterfowl and shorebirds land here each year during spring and fall
    migration. A multitude of other bird species also depends on the
    estuary's salt marshes and Eel-grass beds.

    Port Joli, Nova Scotia: this site's shoreline is an important staging and
    wintering spot for American Black Duck, while the mixed woodland is home
    to a variety of songbirds such as warblers and Black-capped Chickadee.

    Basin Head, Prince Edward Island: a stunning property offering
    opportunities for scientific and educational study. Its salt marsh is
    home to many migrant waterfowl, shorebirds, seabirds and landbirds.

    Hermitage Property, Newfoundland and Labrador: part of the lush Grand
    Codroy River Estuary, this site provides habitat for 19 species of
    waterfowl including the provincially rare Blue-winged Teal, and is the
    only place in Newfoundland where the Ruby-throated Hummingbird appears
    regularly.

    Many of these Gifts to Canadians are also part of NCC's new partnership
with the Government of Canada - a matching funds initiative to conserve
ecologically significant lands across southern Canada over the next five
years. Under this program, matching funds from the federal government will
allow NCC to achieve unprecedented, long-term success in the conservation of
our natural heritage. Minesing Wetlands in Ontario, Port Joli in Nova Scotia,
Hermitage Property in Newfoundland and Labrador, Tern Island in New Brunswick
and the Schepp Property in Manitoba are the beginning of many more
conservation achievements to be realized across Canada as part of this
program.
    "Canada's New Government is proud to work with partners such as the
Nature Conservancy of Canada to protect our ecologically sensitive lands and
the species that inhabit them," said the Honourable John Baird, Minister of
the Environment. "The protection of these 10 significant areas across Canada
is an excellent example of what we can achieve when we work together to
protect Canada's natural treasures."
    Land conservation contributes to the health of the environment and the
well-being of all Canadians in several ways: it conserves large tracts of
representative habitat and wilderness; it protects natural ecosystems that are
at risk and enhances the habitat of species at risk; it provides large
protected areas that help biodiversity to cope with climate change; and it
preserves the deep attachment of Canadians to the natural world.
    "Land conservation is a sustainable solution to a clean environment and a
healthy world," adds Lounds. "By designing and managing networks of protected
areas, we fulfill our national and global responsibility to protect our
natural treasures, today and for future generations."

    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 close to 2 million acres (765,000 hectares) of ecologically
significant land across Canada. For more information visit
www.natureconservancy.ca

    Photos and B-roll available on request.





For further information:

For further information: Sylvie Charland, Media and Public Relations,
Nature Conservancy of Canada - National Office, (416) 932-3202 ext. 252,
Mobile: (416) 712-8880, sylvie.charland@natureconservancy.ca

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