By: The Working Forest Staff
PRINCE EDWARD COUNTY — Ontario is beginning the process to designate Ostrander Crown Land Block and Point Petre Provincial Wildlife Area, two ecologically significant areas along the southern shore of Prince Edward County, as a conservation reserve. Over the coming months, the province will complete an assessment and evaluation of the site, in collaboration with Indigenous communities and environmental organizations, such as the South Shore Joint Initiative, the Schad Foundation, and the Nature Conservancy of Canada.
“Our Made-in-Ontario Environment Plan commits to working with our partners and conservation leaders to protect natural areas and promote the importance of healthy, natural spaces for future generations to use and enjoy,” said Jeff Yurek, Minister of the Environment, Conservation, and Parks. “By exploring this initiative for the southern shore of Prince Edward County, the government is following through on its commitment to pursue initiatives like Ontario’s Living Legacy, which is one of the largest expansions of Ontario parks and conservation reserves in the province’s history.”
Exploring the creation of the new conservation reserve is based on the conservation efforts of the South Shore Joint Initiative, a not-for-profit coalition working to protect the Important Bird and Biodiversity Area in the South Shore of Prince Edward County, and the Nature Conservancy of Canada, who acquired and is managing privately protected areas in the region. If designated a conservation reserve, the land would provide opportunities for the community to enjoy the area’s natural beauty, including hiking, fishing, and birdwatching, while strengthening the long-term protection and health of local wildlife.
“Nature Canada celebrates this critical step forward. We championed this initiative alongside local conservation groups and we encourage the government to provide a strong management plan for the South Shore that will protect this treasured natural area for generations,” said Graham Saul, Executive Director, Nature Canada.
“The project in South Shore is creating real economic benefits, providing protection against the impacts of climate change and ensuring local communities can continue to enjoy the outdoor activities that we all love and that have become even more important in a COVID-19 world,” said Peter Kendall, Executive Director, Schad Foundation.
- The objective of conservation reserves is to permanently protect ecosystems, particularly areas not protected elsewhere, provide opportunities for ecologically sustainable land uses, and facilitate scientific research. Conservation reserves have minimal facilities and are intended for low levels of recreational use, such as hiking, fishing, bird watching and other activities.
- Ostrander Crown Land Block and Point Petre Provincial Wildlife Area are currently provincial Crown land managed by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, used for waterfowl hunting, hiking, recreational motorized vehicles and other recreational activities. Point Petre is also designated as a Provincial Wildlife Area.
- Ontario’s Living Legacy Land Use Strategy, announced in 1999, resulted in the creation of 58 new provincial parks and 268 new conservation reserves, a total area of 1,996,214 hectares.
- Ontario manages and protects 340 provincial parks and 295 conservation reserves totaling 9.8 million hectares or over 9 percent of the province.
- Spending time in nature can have a profound positive impact on our health and well-being, lowering the risk of heart attack by 50 percent, reducing the risk of mental health challenges, and helping to combat chronic disease.