Nature Conservancy of Canada buys lands to save species at risk

Big Horn Sheep.  Photo via  flickr  used under creative commons.

Big Horn Sheep.  Photo via flickr used under creative commons.

I always thought Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) works hard just like other environmental NPOs, where volunteers are highly needed to improve nature, and stewardship is applied - but I did not know that the organization wisely uses its resources to buy lands. The NCC is a unique organization because it is well known and frequently in the news, yet people are not aware of what they actually do. NCC is one of the oldest natural conservation organizations in Canada and it has celebrated its 50th year anniversary in 2012. Citizens should learn more about natural conservation, particularly becoming familiar with major organizations. By their acknowledgement, concerned citizens can interact with organizations and involve in activities such as joining rallies and signing petitions.

According to the website of NCC, there are around 180,000 donors, volunteers, and communicators helping the NCC succeed and 80% of the money goes to land and programs. Since then, they have conserved over 2.8 million acres of important ecological areas and 201 species at risk. This is a very important factor that can attract and encourage Canadians to be involved with the NCC and understand that NCC is, in fact, working on claiming lands to benefit both community and environment, while collaborating with private and public organizations.

On February 4 2016, the NCC announced that they have acquired 127-hectare Ethier Sandhills of Oak Lake Natural Area in Manitoba, which was sold by the landowner who wanted to protect the land. This is a huge sand delta that was formed by glacial lakes, which over time, created dunes that created unique vegetation which inhabit uncommon species in the area. There are 11 species at risk or uncommon in the area, including northern prairie skink, the only known lizard in Manitoba.

Just recently, the NCC acquired 20-hectare Roberts Island located in Lobster Bay, Yarmouth County, Nova Scotia, on April 15, 2016, with main financial support from the Nova Scotia Crown Share Land Legacy Trust, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, and Nova Scotia Fisherman Ltd. Roberts Island contains large salt marshes that are home to both resident and seasonal ducks, along with white-tailed deer and other varieties of birds. The island is the area for a crucial endangered shrub known as Eastern baccharis. According to Craig Smith, NCC Program Director, the Eastern baccharis is only found in this area and there are only 3,200 plants left. The area is prone to sea level rise which increases the chance of isolating these plants. With such key protection of the island from a major NPO, landowners are encouraged to reach out and receive information on how to conserve the land, specifically concentrating on the rare species.

The most recent land acquired is a 255-hectare private property in the new Luxor Linkage Conservation Area, including Purcell and Rocky Mountains, on April 20, 2016. The area is part of the corridor that connects land, helping large animals to move across. Large animals include grizzly bears, bighorn sheep, and wolves. Winter is crucial for these animals thus the land has various restoration projects. Currently, the NCC is proceeding with the next step to improve the already acquired area, adding 133 hectares to the area, if successful.

These are only three examples of NCC’s most recent land claims. In over 50 years, they have successfully bought lands and strived to protect lands from land development and those areas that are prone to decreasing health. I am sure that many people who are very keen to save environment, like me, are not aware that NCC is one of the key environmental NPOs that directly help save flora and fauna from destruction. From now on, NCC will certainly continue to acquire more land. They have worked hard on conserving and successfully acquiring lands in Canada. Yet, we cannot forget that there is much more work to do. There are always issues with needing more financial support. Public concerns are needed as well; conservation education needs to be taught to both adults and children. Other environmental organizations should work with and support NCC to achieve greater goal of conserving environment together. Youth is the key voice to raise concern and engage with the NPOs to work together, initiating raising environmental awareness.

NCC is not just a Canadian organization – it is actually international; Canada is just one of the many locations. If you are concerned with a parchment of land close to you or that you know of that may require attention, you can perhaps look for more information on this piece of land and write a letter or an e-mail to the NCC. You can also talk to local or governmental organizations or private owners to see whether there needs to be improvement. You can connect them with the NCC and you can be the liaison of these parties. If you know local youth organizations, do feel free to talk to them and see if NCC and they can collaborate with each other. You are certainly welcome to set an appointment and visit their office in your location and talk to them in person!