More of northeastern Ontario island protected – Regina Leader-Post

More of northeastern Ontario island protected  Regina Leader-Post

An area twice the size of Bermuda has been set aside as conservation land on Cockburn Island, in northern Lake Huron west of Manitoulin.

The Nature Conservancy of Canada announced Monday it had established the massive tract, which at 10,730 hectares (26,514 acres) makes it the organization’s largest protected area in Ontario.


Part of a chain including Manitoulin and Drummond Islands, Cockburn is the seventh-largest island in the Great Lakes, the NCC notes. Now more than 60 per cent of its land mass, including 48 kilometres of shoreline, has been spared disruption.

The island contains “one of the largest protected, intact hardwood forest ecosystems” in the province, the organization points out, and hosts numerous species of plants and animals that have global significance.

“As a vital breeding area and stopover site for migratory songbirds and waterfowl, the island is visited by the chestnut-sided warbler, wood thrush and the Canada warbler, designated as a threatened species under Canada’s Species at Risk Act,” the NCC says in a release.

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Cockburn Island is also home to “wide-ranging mammals, including American black bear, white-tailed deer, gray wolf and coyote,” the organization adds. “The rivers and creeks support both resident and migratory fish, while economically important species, including lake trout and whitefish, spawn on shoals along the coast.”

The conservation project was supported by federal funding as well as contributions from individuals, foundations and corporations, including the J.A. Woollam Foundation, MapleCross Fund, Rogers Foundation and TD Bank Group.

“This project is a massive undertaking and wouldn’t be possible without the support of our partners and donors,” said Mike Hendren, NCC’s Ontario regional vice-president, in a release. “It’s an extraordinary opportunity to make substantive and tangible progress toward protecting an exceptionally large, pristine area of forest and Great Lakes shoreline in the Manitoulin Islands Archipelago.”

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Waves roll in at a sandy beach on Cockburn Island. Mhairi McFarlane/NCC

J.A. Woollam, whose foundation helped with the acquisition, said most of the projects he has worked on around Lake Michigan are relatively small in scope.

“So I look at Cockburn Island, and – my gosh – the chance to save huge areas of land close to humanity and close to water, that’s just unheard of,” he said. “This represents a marvelous opportunity in our time, to do something really big.”

Jan Oudenes and Isobel Ralston of the MapleCross Fund said they were thrilled to contribute, along with others, to a 1,457-acre parcel dubbed the MapleCross Tract.

“Having lived in proximity of the Great Lakes for many years, we have become increasingly aware of their uniqueness and splendour, as well as their fragility,” the duo said. “Together, we are committed to restoring and preserving the integrity of our land for our community and for all Canadians.”

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Nicole Vadori, head of environment with TD Bank Group, said the protection of Cockburn Island “brings us one step closer to supporting a resilient Canada and a more sustainable future, and that’s why we’re so proud to support this initiative through our corporate citizenship platform, The Ready Commitment.”

Catherine McKenna, minister of Environment and Climate Change Canada, said preserving biodiversity is a federal priority, and safeguarding an area like Cockburn Island is an important step in accomplishing this goal.

“With the help of partners like the Nature Conservancy of Canada, our government is taking action to double the amount of protected nature in Canada,” she said. “By taking the initiative now to protect special places like Cockburn Island, we’re ensuring our kids and grandkids can connect to nature and experience its wonder.”

The Nature Conservancy of Canada is a national, non-profit group committed to protecting “our most important natural areas and the species they sustain,” according to a statement.

Since 1962, the organization and its partners have helped to protect more than 82,000 hectares (200,000 acres) in Ontario.

To learn more, visit natureconservancy.ca.


Source: leaderpost.com

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