March 26, 2007

Conservation groups to receive $225M from Ottawa to support ecological lands program

The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) is heading up a new government land conservation initiative announced this month 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 federal government will be matched dollar for dollar with contributions raised by NCC and its partner organizations. The federal contribution is subject to Parliamentary approval.

The campaign will focus on lands that have national or provincial ecological significance, that provide habitat for species at risk or migratory birds, or that connect to existing protected areas such as National Parks. The key natural areas targeted for conservation through this program have been designated 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.

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 among these conservation groups, a working relationship that has resulted in the conservation of millions of acres of endangered habitats over the past several decades.

NCC bases its efforts to protect areas of essential biological diversity on the best available conservation science. The organization applies a science-based conservation framework to guide its planning, land securement and land management activities. The framework involves setting priorities, planning sites, conservation action and measuring success.

Established in 1962, NCC has helped conserve more than 1.9 million acres of ecologically significant land across Canada. Last year alone, NCC secured over 46,056 acres-land valued at over $45 million, home to 121 species at risk.

Since 1998, NCC has experienced exceptional growth. The number of land transactions completed per year has almost tripled to over 140; the group's yearly revenue increased from approximately $8 million to over $55 million; and its individual supporter base has quadrupled to 32,000. More than 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.

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