Announcing Darkwoods:The largest single conservation initiative in Canadian history

Today, the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) is proud to announce the unveiling of an exciting project of astronomical proportions — the biggest ever single private conservation initiative in Canadian history, also known as Darkwoods.
Encompassing 550 square kilometres (roughly the same size as the entire Island of Montreal) of remote valleys, mountains and lakes, Darkwoods provides vital habitat for dozens of species at risk.
Click here to read more about the Darkwoods project, and find out how you can help support this conservation legacy.
The Darkwoods project presents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to advance the mission of the Nature Conservancy of Canada at an unprecedented scale.
Rarely does private property of this size and ecological richness become available for conservation. In acting quickly to acquire the property, NCC has initiated a unique conservation project on a scale big enough to protect a myriad of native species, extensive freshwater systems and regional biodiversity.
CNW Media Release
Bigger IS Better: Largest single private conservation land acquisition in Canadian history
VANCOUVER, July 24 /CNW/ – The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) today announces a bold commitment to protect 550 square kilometres of remote valleys, mountains and lakes in south-central British Columbia. The acquisition of an exceptional property, known as Darkwoods, launches the largest, single private conservation project ever undertaken by a Canadian non-profit organization.
“This is a unique and immediate opportunity to conserve a landscape roughly the size of the entire Island of Montreal,” says John Lounds, President and CEO of the Nature Conservancy of Canada. “Darkwoods is a conservation initiative of global significance. It’s part of a greater vision that will set new standards for conservation success.”
Darkwoods is situated between the towns of Nelson, Salmo and Creston in the West Kootenay region of British Columbia. The previous owners, the Pluto Darkwoods Forestry Corporation, had owned and operated the land since 1967. The property connects a network of protected lands and wilderness management areas to create a vast tract covering more than 250,000 acres (100,000 hectares) – enough for wide-ranging animals such as caribou and Grizzly Bear to roam freely.
The project cost is more than $125-million, which includes not only the purchase of the land but the endowment funds needed to ensure Darkwoods will be cared for in generations to come. The property has been purchased with the support of the Government of Canada through the Natural Areas Conservation Program – a $225-million investment which is aimed at accelerating and enhancing the efforts of conservation groups to protect precious natural areas. NCC is allocating $25 million to the purchase of Darkwoods.
“This is truly an incredible property both in size and value, covering an area nearly 140 times the size of Stanley Park,” said Minister Baird. “We’re proud to play a part in this moment and of the success of the Natural Areas Conservation Program. Over the last year, our pledge of $225 million to the Program has helped to conserve habitat for 59 species at risk in over 71 properties, and there’s more to come.”
Darkwoods supports a tremendous range of biologically rich habitats: rare old-growth forests, sub-alpine meadows, serene valley bottoms, productive creeks and lakefront lands. These habitats are home to 29 provincially-listed species at risk, such as Bull Trout, Red-tailed Chipmunk, Western Screech Owl and a streamside orchid called Giant Helleborine. It offers NCC scientists and other researchers the chance to discover and study the numerous rare species that grow, forage, breed and raise their young in this landscape.
“Conserving Darkwoods is essential to the recovery of the South Selkirk caribou population,” says biologist Trevor Kinley. “It could also significantly affect the viability of the local grizzly population, and it will definitely influence the retention of natural biodiversity.”
Because of its great scale and topographical diversity, Darkwoods offers sensitive plants and animals a chance to adapt in the face of global climate change. Species will be able to migrate to different latitudes or elevations as temperatures fluctuate. The forests of Darkwoods represent an immense carbon sink. In excess of 2 million tonnes of carbon are stored in Darkwoods – equal to the annual carbon footprint of nearly half a million Canadians.
NCC is now working closely with local communities to develop the management plans that will support and sustain Darkwoods for the long term.
“This is just the first of many announcements to come as we advance this project,” says Lounds. “In addition to our conservation work we will also spend the next year raising the funds needed to ensure Darkwoods is secure for future generations. We are inviting others who share our conservation vision to help us make history.”
The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) is a private, non-profit Canadian organization dedicated to protecting our country’s most ecologically significant lands. As the leading land conservation organization in Canada, NCC has conserved more than 2 million acres (809,000 hectares) of ecologically significant land since 1962. Guided by a mission to conserve areas of biological diversity for their intrinsic value and for the benefit of future generations, NCC is creating a lasting natural legacy for Canada.

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