Thursday, April 25, 2024

Governments buying Islands

Canada: University Celebrates Conservation of Bon Portage Island

Acadia University in Nova Scotia has become Canada’s first university to successfully protect a natural haven by using a conservation easement.

(Image Courtesy of Flickr/ducksarefun)

Wolfville’s Acadia University has announced that it has become Canada’s only university to use a conservation easement to preserve land; in this case, a small island on the coast of southern Nova Scotia. Frequented by migrating seabirds, the island, known as both Outer Island and Bon Portage, is now protected forever through an arrangement between Acadia and the Nova Scotia Nature Trust. This partnership has led to the university and its vice-president, Tom Herman, receiving the 2011 Nature Trust Conservation Award. According to a local paper, Herman said that Acadia’s students will benefit from their involvement in the project: “This is important. It develops an environmental stewardship for our students.”

Bon Portage is located at the very tip of Nova Scotia, in an undisturbed region of woodlands and forests, dotted here and there with small fishing villages. Just a 3km boat ride from Shag Harbour, near the town of Yarmouth, the island looks out onto a scene of breathtaking natural beauty; seabird-filled skies, vast stretches of ocean, and the faint outlines of other nearby islands. An automated lighthouse sits on one corner of the island, and elsewhere, rustic cabins provide lodging for students and other visitors. The island’s current use is as the university’s biological research station, but the island also has a beautiful and quintessentially East Coast past.

(Creative Commons Image)

The Nova Scotia author Evelyn Richardson, together with her husband and three children, made an idyllic home of Bon Portage; here on the island, she raised her small children, weathered hurricanes, and manned the old lighthouse, established in 1874. She also penned numerous books about her unique home, including We Keep a Light in 1945, a Governor General Award recipient, and Desired Haven in 1953. She spent 35 years on the island, both magical and challenging, which she had first purchased in 1929. Upon her retirement, the island was given to Acadia University with the assistance of a wealthy Nova Scotia businessman. The preservation of Bon Portage into perpetuity is a legacy of which she would no doubt be thrilled.

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