Canada's Environment Minister John Baird, Member of Parliament for Kootenay - Columbia Jim Abbott and representatives from the Nature Conservancy of Canada jointly announced that more than 550 square kilometres of ecologically significant land will be conserved near Creston, British Columbia, including important habitat for local species and species at risk.
"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."
Located in the South Selkirks region of B.C., the property, known as Darkwoods, includes high ridges, mountains, valleys and trenches, as well as wetlands that host over 100,000 migratory birds and 265 bird species. The property offers an important passageway, connecting existing conserved areas and bringing the total conserved land in that location to 1,030 square kilometres or an area almost nine times the size of Vancouver. This is especially significant for wide-ranging species such as the Grizzly and the threatened Southern Mountain population of the Woodland Caribou.
"Conserving precious habitat like this is one of the best ways to help our ecosystems and species thrive and survive," said MP Jim Abbott. "By conserving this important area in British Columbia, the Government of Canada and the Nature Conservancy of Canada are providing important space for species at risk, including our own woodland caribou, and a number of species and plants that may otherwise become threatened."
A portion of the Darkwoods property was donated through the Government of Canada's Ecological Gifts Program. Through income tax incentives, the Ecological Gifts Program encourages donations of ecologically sensitive lands and interests in those lands across Canada, ensuring a natural legacy for future generations.
The Natural Areas Conservation Programis an important on-the-ground initiative that takes real action to preserve Canada's environment and conserve its precious natural heritage for present and future generations. The program is expected to result in the long-term protection of more than 2,000 square kilometres of ecologically sensitive land across Canada.