New Nature Reserve protects Minesing Wetlands habitat, water supply

wetlands

Want to buy some swampland? It isn't just a punchline to a joke.

The Nature Conservancy of Canada has purchased 32 hectares (80 acres) of land west of Barrie, part of the globally important Minesing Wetlands.

The newly created Baldwick Bluff Nature Reserve will protect the collection of forests, fields, wetlands and headwater streams surrounding the core of the swamp. The area is a protective buffer that gives wildlife room to thrive, helps control floods, and provides clean water for nearby communities.

According to Andrew Holland of the Nature Conservancy of Canada, the area also provides important habit for a number of species at risk - including the eastern meadowlark (threatened), bobolink (threatened), and Hine’s emerald dragonfly (endangered), which is found only in the Minesing Wetlands in Canada.

He joined Jason and Carey recently to chat about the Nature Conservancies purchase. You can listen to the full interview here:

 

The Minesing Wetlands play an important role in filtering the water that is carried by the Nottawasaga River into Georgian Bay, and that flows out of thousands of taps in nearby homes. This vast collection of marshes, fens and treed swamps acts as a large sponge to help mitigate floods and supports more than 30 species at risk. With a rapidly changing climate, protecting large, intact wetlands is vitally important to the health and resiliency of local communities.

Comprising approximately 11,000 hectares (27,000 acres) of wetlands, fields and forests, the Minesing Wetlands are often referred to as the "Everglades of the North" due to their designation as a Ramsar Wetland of International Importance — a distinction they share with their Floridian counterpart.

Over 70 per cent of southern Ontario’s wetlands have been converted to alternative uses since European settlement. The province’s remaining wetlands are threatened by non-native invasive plant species, pollution and habitat fragmentation.

For more than 45 years, NCC and its partners, like the Nottawasaga Valley Conservation Authority (NVCA), have been working to protect the Minesing Wetlands and deliver restoration and stewardship programs, including reforestation, stream bank stabilization, erosion control and nutrient management projects, and invasive species control. These projects help reduce and sequester phosphorus, improve streamside shading and create habitat for many native species.

This important local land purchase was made possible thanks to the generosity of many area residents and organizations, especially the Friends of Minesing Wetlands, the NVCA and the Southern Ontario Orchid Society. The project was funded by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, through the North American Wetlands Conservation Act, the Government of Canada’s Natural Heritage Conservation Program, part of Canada’s Nature Fund, and many private donors.

“The Minesing Wetlands are an amazing place — where birds stop over in the tens of thousands during spring migration, fish are plentiful in the rivers, and deer and other wildlife find a protected haven to rest. It also provides recreational opportunities from paddling to hiking to snowshoeing. The Nature Conservancy of Canada is excited to announce the expansion of this key natural area.”- Mike Hendren, Regional Vice-president, Ontario, Nature Conservancy of Canada

“Thanks in part to the Canada Nature Fund’s Natural Heritage Conservation Program, the Nature Conservancy of Canada will be protecting important wetlands and forests located in the newly conserved Baldwick Bluff Nature Reserve. Wetlands are among the most productive and valuable ecosystems in the world and play an important role in the fight against climate change. This new reserve surrounds the Minesing Wetlands, an internationally recognized site. Conservation of this important piece of land will also help provide habitat for species at risk and clean water for nearby communities. With help from partners like the Nature Conservancy of Canada and support from the local community, we are making progress toward our goal of conserving a quarter of Canada’s land and a quarter of its oceans by 2025.” - The Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Environment and Climate Change

The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) is the nation's leading not-for-profit, private land conservation organization, working to protect our most important natural areas and the species they sustain. Since 1962, NCC and its partners have helped to protect 14 million hectares (35 million acres), coast to coast to coast, with more than 84,000 hectares (207,000 acres) in Ontario. To learn more, visit natureconservancy.ca.

The Government of Canada’s Natural Heritage Conservation Program (NHCP) is a unique public-private partnership to support new protected and conserved areas by securing private lands and private interests in lands. The program is managed by the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC). Federal funds invested in the program are matched with contributions raised by NCC and its partners, Ducks Unlimited Canada and the country’s land trust community.

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