Monsef, Land Trust talk conservation
The federal government is building a network of experts to carry out work made possible by a $500 million fund for conservation partnerships in the 2018 federal budget, Peterborough-Kawartha MP Maryam Monsef said Thursday.
Monsef visited the Kawartha Land Trust Dance Nature Sanctuary on Preston Rd. northwest of Lakefield to lead a brief discussion on conservation investments and recognize the “monumental” work of staff and volunteers.
It was communication between the federal cabinet and the Kawartha Land Trust and other members of the Green Budget Coalition that made the $1.9 billion allocation to conservation efforts a reality, Monsef told those gathered.
“You helped make that happen. Thank you so much,” she said.
Asked how funding could help the group do its job better, executive director Mike Hendren pointed out that the land trust movement remains young in Canada, the groups are a key part of the conservation puzzle.
Land trusts conserve the environment by accepting donations of land and/or interests in land and working to ensure they are cared for, in perpetuity.
Funding will help the group take a “huge leap” is it works to double its portfolio of protected lands in the next five years, Hendren told t hose gathered. “And we are well on our way to reaching that goal.”
Canada aims to achieve Aichi Target 11 from the Convention on Biological Diversity stating that 17 per cent of terrestrial and inland water areas must be permanently protected by 2020 for nature to sustain biodiversity, he pointed out.
The current rate for Ontario is 10.5 per cent, meaning there is much more work to be done, Hendren said, adding that government can’t do everything on its own. “We need to be a part of the mix to work with private landowners.”
After a walking tour of the scenic 100-acre property secured from Alice Sharpe – the first property acquired by the land trust – Monsef echoed the same sentiment. “These partnerships are key to our success.”
Neil Hayward, a volunteer on the trust’s land securement committee, pointed out that the cost of conservation efforts mount quickly and having the government provide resources “really helps us do our job.”
Monsef asked Keith Knott of Curve Lake First Nation why he feels it is important to volunteer with and support the land trust.
“I’m always interested in moving forward on something,” he said, explaining how heartwarming it is when citizens give up land to that nature can be enjoyed in the future. “Walking on ground like this feels like walking on air … you feel like you belong there.”
Future generations will be able to enjoy more properties like the mixture of grassland, wetlands and forest on Preston Rd., Knott said. “I’m excited to be a part of this organization. Great things lie ahead.”
Sharpe, who bought the property in 1967 and continues to live there, said she initially looked to donate the land because she didn’t want it turned into a gravel pit. She acknowledged she has given family heritage away to ensure its protection.
“I hope it’s an example for somebody else … this is an significant piece of land that should be protected because of its water,” she said.
After removing invasive species from the land last year, volunteers last weekend planted native trees and shrubs such as oak and black cherry trees, volunteer and summer stewardship technician Patricia Wilson said.
Fauna on the private property includes deer and even a beaver who is responsible for higher water levels than usual, said volunteer and lead steward John Lazure.
Formed in 2001, Kawartha
Land Trust has 14 properties totalling more than 3,300 acres with a donated and value of $8.9 million.
The non-governmental organization and registered charity employs four staff who are supported by dozens of volunteers who logged more than 7,000 hours last year, development co-ordinator Tara King said.
NOTE: The group is holding a cleanup and tree planting at John Earle Chase Memorial Park near Gannons Narrows in Trent Lakes on Saturday at 10 a.m.
PeterboroughKawartha MP Maryam Monsef eyes marshland during a tour of the Kawartha Land Trust Dance Nature
Sanctuary on Preston Rd.