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Conservation Matters… But Why Here?

By October 15, 2020October 23rd, 2020No Comments
The Thousand Islands watershed is a natural treasure chest, overflowing with communities of plants and animals like no other place.

The Thousand Islands watershed is at the narrow centre of a natural land bridge, called the Frontenac Arch, which stretches from the Canadian Shield to the Appalachian Mountains in USA. And it’s here that this watershed’s tributaries flow to the St. Lawrence River, and where the Great Lakes pour through the Thousand Islands over the Frontenac Arch in the St. Lawrence River valley. The intersection of the Frontenac Arch land bridge and the St. Lawrence River valley form nature’s ‘crossroads of the continent’, two major migration routes that bring eastern North America’s five forest regions together. The Thousand Islands are stepping-stones for species to hop-skip across the river. Species that normally would not otherwise intermingle, thrive in forests and wetlands of the Thousand Islands watershed.

The Great Lakes west of the Thousand Islands are a migration barrier; and the highly developed lands are barriers to the east. Conserving habitat at this migration route crossroads is vital to our quality and enjoyment of life, and for all of the treasures and services of nature that this area’s wetlands and woodlands provide. To compound things, plant and animal populations, migration routes, and ranges are being distorted in North America by a rapidly changing climate.

Watch our video below to learn more.

Not all land needs to be protected, but some places are critical. Planet-wide, science agrees that for our health and well-being, and to protect against loss of even more species of plants and animals, 30% of natural lands must be protected. September 28th this year, Canada joined a growing coalition of countries to make that 30% a formal target for a biodiversity summit in 2021 – up from the current target of a mere 17%. This is one of the most critical regions for conservation: this location is the narrow neck of the hourglass-shaped land bridge from the Canadian Shield to Appalachia. This small watershed hosts a richness of biodiversity with nearly 20% of the species at risk in Ontario. But at present, just 5% is protected in all of the national and provincial parks, conservation authority lands, municipal regulation and land trust lands combined. That is absurdly far below a minimal threshold.

Planet-wide, science agrees that for our health and well-being, and to protect against loss of even more species of plants and animals, 30% of natural lands must be protected.

Over the past 30 years, we’ve worked with dozens of landowners to see their much-loved properties come under conservation – over 5,000 acres in total. We’ve orchestrated the doubling of the size of Thousand Islands National Park and increased the protected area of Charleston Lake Provincial Park by a third. With your help, and with our wonderful conservation partners, we’ve helped protect the vibrant greens and blues of forest and wetland habitats for the nearly 2,000 species of plants and animals that call this region home. Conservation of land comes at a price – costs of appraisals, legal fees, property taxes, ecological assessments, required audits… and for one year now, an actual staff person to help the volunteer Board.

This is the place and this is the time where conservation matters most of all. Let’s all roll up our sleeves, and pitch in where and however we can.

– By Don Ross, President