Nature Conservancy celebrates largest conservation project in Ontario history

Toronto – The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC)
joins with its partners in celebrating the protection of the Wilson
Island group near Rossport, Ontario. This $7.4-million binational
initiative is the largest (based on dollar value) conservation project
ever completed in Ontario.

The landmark acquisition in northwestern Ontario will preserve habitat
and species at risk for the long term. It was made possible with
significant funding support from the Government of Canada under the Natural Areas Conservation Program, the Province of Ontario and The Nature Conservancy (TNC, based in the United States).

The Nature Conservancy and NCC have identified the Northwestern Lake
Superior Coast as a high priority for conservation action based on the
binational Great Lakes Conservation Blueprint for Aquatic Biodiversity.
The NCC/TNC collaboration allowed the two organizations to negotiate
the deal for Wilson Island with an American vendor and raise private
donations from U.S. donors and foundations to secure a large area of
undeveloped Great Lakes Shoreline — an increasingly rare opportunity.

This deal has strong support from the Pays Plat First Nation,
whose people have a deep cultural interest in this natural gem. The
Nature Conservancy of Canada will work cooperatively with the Pays Plat
First Nation to conduct biological and cultural inventories of the
islands and ensure the long-standing Aboriginal traditions will be
maintained for generations to come.

The eight islands in the Wilson Island cluster total more than 1,900
hectares. They are situated in the heart of the recently established Lake Superior National Marine Conservation Area
— the largest protected freshwater area on the planet. Wilson Island’s
high cliffs provide nesting habitat for Peregrine Falcons and Bald
Eagles, while the smaller offshore islands provide important nesting
habitat for colonial waterbirds. The rare coastal wetlands and forests,
rugged cliffs, bedrock shoreline and globally rare sand beaches of the
islands support rare species such as Mountain Fir-moss and Northern
Woodsia fern.

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