Every year, an increasing number of islands in Canada are being put back into public hands through the dedicated work of individuals, government programs, and conservancy groups.
The Nature Conservancy of Canada is celebrating a new victory as two ecologically important islands – Governors and Reynolds – have just been purchased in the province of Prince Edward Island. Through a collaborative effort by the provincial government, the Natural Areas Conservation Program and generous private and corporate donors, the untouched wilderness of the two islands will be safe from development or misuse.
Governors Island in Hillsborough Bay is 84 acres of pristine forest and wetland, a haven for a large colony of majestic blue herons and migrating birds such as Canada geese. On the 31-acre Reynold’s Island, located just off Murray Harbour, seals sun themselves on its sandy beaches, and salt marshes shelter a wide variety of bird and plant life. According to the NCC, the islands play an essential role in the nesting and migratory cycles of multitudes of Canadian birds.
Both islands are generally regarded as being an important part of P.E.I.’s biosphere- in fact, they were recommended for protection as long ago as 1972, by the Maritime Panel of the International Biological Program. This conservation has truly been decades in the making, and took the participation of many NGOs, politicians, and individual nature lovers.
Canada’s Minister of the Environment, Peter Kent, said in an official press release that this conservation purchase was a significant step forward, and one that would be appreciated by generations to come. “This acquisition marks another achievement under our government’s Natural Areas Conservation Program,” said Minister Kent. “We continue to take real action across Canada to protect our ecosystems and sensitive species for present and future generations.”
Gail Shea, Member of Parliament for the Egmont district of P.E.I., was also thrilled about this conservation success story. “The two properties that have been acquired–Governors Island and Reynolds Island–will be an important part of our pursuit of the preservation and protection of our Island’s biodiversity,” she said in a government press release. “Each island remains untouched, and we know that undeveloped coastal islands provide important refuges for wildlife.”
“Prince Edward Island has very few undeveloped coastal islands, making the acquisition of these rare and precious commodities a victory for Island conservation efforts,” the Minister continued. In fact, the province has an astonishingly low proportion of conserved land, amounting to less than 3% of its total area. Conservationists may be celebrating an important new victory, but to get to the province’s goal of 7% protected land, much more work lies ahead.