The Government of Canada acts to protect important land under the new Natural Areas Conservation Program

    ESSEX COUNTY, ON, Nov. 25 /CNW Telbec/ - Canada's Environment Minister
John Baird, and Jeff Watson, Member of Parliament for Essex, today joined
representatives from the Nature Conservancy of Canada and residents of Pelee
Island in announcing one of the first achievements under the Government of
Canada's $225 million Natural Areas Conservation Program - the future
conservation of globally significant habitat on the renowned Pelee Island in
southwestern Ontario.
    "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 lands, totaling 524 acres and worth more than $7 million, are home to
a variety of globally rare species and ecosystems, including one of only two
known occurrences of Chinquapin Oak Nodding Wild Onion Savanna in the world
and one of Canada's last populations of the endangered Blue Racer Snake.
    "Gifts such as this land on Pelee Island are priceless in terms of the
benefits they provide to our endangered species and their habitat," said
Mr. Watson. "Through our Natural Areas Conservation Program, the federal
government is playing a lead role in conserving and protecting our environment
for the benefit of all Canadians."

    The Natural Areas Conservation Program, announced by Prime Minister
Stephen Harper earlier this year, is an important on-the-ground initiative
that takes real action to preserve Canada's environment and conserve its
precious natural heritage for present and future generations. The Program is
expected to result in the long-term protection of up to half a million acres
of ecologically sensitive land across southern Canada.

    Egalement offert en francais


                     Natural Areas Conservation Program

    In March 2007, as part of its commitment to conserve and protect our
natural environment, the Government of Canada invested $225 million in the new
Natural Areas Conservation Program.  The Program helps non-profit,
non-government organizations secure ecologically sensitive lands to ensure the
protection of our diverse ecosystems, wildlife, and habitat.
     In order to carry out the objectives of the Program, the Government of
Canada entered into an agreement with the Nature Conservancy of Canada. As
part of that agreement, the Nature Conservancy of Canada will partner with
non-government conservation organizations such as Ducks Unlimited Canada and
other qualified land trusts.  These organizations must provide matching funds
for each federal dollar received.
     Using a science-based process, the Nature Conservancy of Canada and its
partners work to acquire ecologically sensitive lands through donation,
purchase or stewardship agreements with private landowners.
    Under the Program, priority is given to lands that are nationally or
provincially significant, that protect habitat for species at risk and
migratory birds, or that enhance connectivity or corridors between existing
protected areas such as National Wildlife Areas, National Parks and Migratory
Bird Sanctuaries.
    The Natural Areas Conservation Program complements the Government's other
important conservation initiatives and investments, including:
    - $110M for the work under the Species at Risk Act;
    - 10M for the Northwest Territories Protected Areas Strategy;
    - $30 million for the Great Bear Rainforest;
    - $3 million for Stanley Park in Vancouver and Point Pleasant Park in
    - the Habitat Stewardship Program, which has invested $19M for the last
      two years to support over 350 local projects for the protection of
      species at risk and their habitat;
    - Environment Canada's Canadian Wildlife Service Protected Areas Network,
      made up of 51 National Wildlife Areas and 92 Migratory Bird
      Sanctuaries; and
    - the Ecological Gifts Program, which provides tax incentives to land
      owners who donate land title or place a conservation easement on
      ecologically sensitive land.  In its May 2006 budget, the Government of
      Canada increased the incentive for land donations by reducing the
      taxable capital gains inclusion rate for certified ecological gift
      donations from 25 per cent to zero.

    The Natural Areas Conservation Program is an important on-the-ground
initiative that takes real action to preserve our environment.  It is expected
to result in the long-term protection of up to half a million acres of
ecologically sensitive land across southern Canada.

For further information:

For further information: Eric Richer, Press Secretary, Office of the
Minister of the Environment, (613) 286-6064; Environment Canada, Media
Relations, (819) 934-8008, 1-888-908-8008

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