The Canada Nature Fund and the Georgian Bay Land Trust announced the completion of a conservation easement agreement to protect 5,400 acres of wilderness on the eastern coast of Georgian Bay on April 24.
Core funding for the agreement in the amount of $967,000 was supplied by the Nature Fund with additional funding provided by the Echo Foundation and McLean Foundation. The Nature Conservancy of Canada performed the initial field work that supported the Georgian Bay Land Trust’s work on the project. Named for the watershed it protects, the Tadenac Conservation Initiative preserves a regional biodiversity hotspot and contributes to Canada’s target of protecting 17 per cent of lands and inland waters by 2020, according to the trust. The eastern Georgian Bay area is recognized by UNESCO for its habitat, which supports the largest diversity of reptile and amphibian species in Canada.
“This project enshrines the largest private landholding on the eastern Georgian Bay coast as a permanent sanctuary for nature,” said Bill Lougheed, executive director of the Georgian Bay Land Trust. “It protects the aquatic and terrestrial habitats of one of the most diverse and ecologically intact places on the coast.”
The Tadenac Conservation Initiative protects the majority of one of the region’s largest undisturbed natural areas. The area provides habitat for at least 32 at risk species including the Blanding’s Turtle and Algonquin Wolf, 15 provincially rare plant species and critical fish spawning and nursery areas used by endangered Lake Sturgeon.
The protected area also plays an important role in establishing a protected habitat corridor along the Georgian Bay coast. These corridors are essential for the survival of large mammals and migratory birds and also allow for greater ecological resilience to climate change, according to the trust. The property’s forests and wetlands provide ecosystem services including water purification, carbon sequestration, and flood and erosion prevention.
“The work of the Georgian Bay Land Trust and its partners is a great example of the leadership and collaboration needed to protect more of Canada’s nature,” said Catherine McKenna, minister of Environment and Climate Change. “By working together, we can double the amount of nature we’re protecting from coast to coast to coast. This special place in Ontario will now be preserved for all Canadians for all time.”
The land and lakebed included in the Tadenac Conservation Initiative remain privately owned and will be protected by conservation easement with regular ecological monitoring by the Georgian Bay Land Trust. The initiative’s main purpose is to provide a sanctuary for biodiversity while also providing opportunities for conservation-focused research, so the landowners have established a foundation with a $1 million endowment to support ongoing scientific research in the area.