Island Nature Trust gets new federal funding for land protection

The Island Nature Trust will be able to buy about 172 hectares of land with the new federal funding. (Nicola MacLeod/CBC - image credit)
The Island Nature Trust will be able to buy about 172 hectares of land with the new federal funding. (Nicola MacLeod/CBC - image credit)

The Island Nature Trust is getting $600,000 from the federal government to purchase about 172 hectares of land to protect native wildlife on Prince Edward Island.

The funding comes from the federal government's $27 million Enhanced Nature Legacy – Priority Places for Species at Risk initiative which is funding 67 projects across Canada.

"We're trying to protect every species, I would say, on P.E.I.," said George Mason, treasurer for the Island Nature Trust.

"In this particular funding we would be targeting the habitat of the Canada warbler, which is essentially older forest with a heavy shrub layer. It lives in dense brush so it's actually a bird you don't see that often unless you go looking for it," Mason said.

Alix d’Entremont
Alix d’Entremont

The Canada warbler is a threatened bird species. On its website, the Island Nature Trust says Canada warbler populations have seen an estimated 71 per cent decrease from 1970 to 2012.

The forest habitat that the trust is looking to protect supports 13 species at risk, says a news release from Environment and Climate Change Canada on the funding.

Now that this funding is secured, Mason said the trust will decide which pieces of land it would like to acquire and begin talks with landowners.

Tony Davis/CBC
Tony Davis/CBC

Mason said the trust has now purchased over 8,000 acres — or more than 3,200 hectares — of land on P.E.I. to protect it, almost half of that in the last five years.

"We've been growing quickly and this will add to those land holdings," said Mason.

'Long way' from land protection target 

The provincial target for land preservation is 10 per cent.

"We're a long way from achieving that target even with this funding," Mason said.

At the end of 2020, about 4.4 per cent of P.E.I.'s land was protected.

The federal initiative to protect species at risk is also giving funds to the provincial Department of Environment, Energy and Climate Action and to the Abegweit Conservation Society.

"Prince Edward Island has diverse wildlife and a vibrant natural landscape. It is vital that we protect and preserve it for generations to come," said P.E.I. MP Heath MacDonald in the federal news release.