National conservation group launches largest single private project in northern Ontario

May 15, 2022
Nature
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Image Source: https://northernontario.ctvnews.ca/

The largest single private conservation project in Canadian history is about to get underway in northern Ontario.

On Friday morning, members of the National Conservancy of Canada (NCC), alongside both Ontario and Canada’s environment ministers, launched the Boreal Wildlands Project, located near Hearst.

The largest single private conservation project in Canadian history is about to get underway in northern Ontario.

On Friday morning, members of the National Conservancy of Canada (NCC), alongside both Ontario and Canada’s environment ministers, launched the Boreal Wildlands Project, located near Hearst.

“This year we’re marking Earth Day with a special announcement — we’re calling it ‘big, bold and Boreal,” said Catherine Grenier, president of the NCC.

“It’s certainly big and bold. It’s the largest project that the Nature Conservancy of Canada has ever undertaken.”

The project takes in more than 100 lakes and 1,300 kilometres of rivers, streams and shoreline. It also includes a wealth of forests.

The project is roughly 1,500 square kilometres in size. Grenier said that’s an area that’s three times the size of Montreal, 12 times the size of Vancouver and twice the size of Toronto.

“We’re working at a record pace now to conserve the natural areas that are a life support system,” she said.

The lands are formerly forestry lands that forestry giant Domtar decided to sell at a discounted rate to the NCC. It’s since raised about two-thirds of the $46-million project costs and has about $13 million left to go.

“We’ve managed this land to source wood for our pulp and paper mills in Ontario,” said Domtar senior vice-president Rob Melton.

“However, we haven’t harvested from this land in over a decade and we felt the opportunity to participate in this project with NCC was more value for Domtar for conservation than it was for future harvesting.”

Roughly 800 kilometres of the land is already protected and the NCC has about 650 kilometres left to go, which will be added later this year.

The charity is still determining what ‘protected’ will mean and exactly what will and won’t be allowed on the land.

“We’ve been speaking with the Town of Hearst about things like opportunities for eco-tourism opportunities on the site and, obviously, working with our partners like Constance Lake First Nation to speak about honouring their treaty rights and accommodating access to these lands,” said the NCC’s Krystyn Ferguson.

Ferguson said they are in the midst of coming up with a property management plan.

The fact this is a private-sector investment is something that hasn’t escaped the notice of the provincial and federal environment ministers.

Canadian Minister of the Environment and Climate Change Stephen Guilbeault said what’s required when it comes to climate change is an ‘all-hands-on-deck’ approach.

“Clearly private lands are also part of the question and the Nature Conservancy, with its partners at the local level and all the way to the federal government and private companies, plays a very key role in helping Canada reach its ambitious goal of protecting 25 per cent of our lands and oceans by 2025,” said Guilbeault.

David Piccini, Ontario Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks, said government and the private sector working together has a much bigger impact.

“What excites me is that we’re seeing an unprecedented level of collaboration and I think it’s no better exemplified than through today’s example,” Piccini said.

He said the province would have more to announce on expanding provincial parks later.

According to the NCC, the carbon storage on the project is equivalent to the average lifetime emissions of three-million cars.

The project is expected to help shelter species at risk, including woodland caribou, lynx, black bear, wolf and moose. It’ll also be a nesting ground for migratory species, including the Canada warbler and the olive-sided flycatcher.

Story Source: https://northernontario.ctvnews.ca/national-conservation-group-launches-largest-single-private-project-in-northern-ontario-1.5872865

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