Sean Landsman

Prince Edward Island

Number of projects: During this period, NCC also funded the relinquishment of 82,313 acres (33,311 hectares) of timber rights outside the new Birch River Wildland Park in Alberta. These rights were cancelled by the provincial government and will only be re-issued for ecological purposes. 5

Land value: Land value is the fair market value as determined by independent appraisal. $243,200

Acres conserved: 223

Stewardship volunteers: 23

Conserving one of PEI’s last wild beaches

Sean Landsman

The Cascumpec Sandhills are part of a chain of near-shore islands that are often considered to be Prince Edward Island’s last true wilderness. And for more than a century, a parcel of land on the sandhills had belonged to the Oulton family.

This year, Ian Oulton donated 150 acres (61 hectares) of exceptional coastal habitat on the Cascumpec Sandhills to NCC.

NCC’s Cascumpec Sandhills property, and the neighbouring Conway Sandhills property, are part of a system of island barrier beaches on the northwest shore of PEI. The Cascumpec Sandhills are characterized by a sand dune ecosystem. Located in the globally significant Cascumpec Bay/Alberton Harbour Important Bird Area, this area provides an important staging area for waterfowl migration. It also provides critical nesting habitat for the endangered piping plover.  

Other notable shorebird species in the area also include:

  • black-bellied plover
  • ruddy turnstone
  • sanderling
  • semipalmated plover
  • semipalmated sandpiper

Conservation of this property was made possible through the Government of Canada’s Natural Areas Conservation Program. In addition, a portion of this project was donated to NCC under the Canadian government’s Ecological Gifts Program, which provides enhanced tax incentives for individuals or corporations donating ecologically significant land. American Friends of Nature Conservancy of Canada also contributed generously to this project.

Protecting critically important salt marsh habitat and coastal forest

Sean Landsman

At the mouth of the Haldimand River, west of Summerside, lies Abrams Village. NCC has conserved two properties containing coastal habitats here, including 49 acres (20 hectares) of intact salt marsh — rare habitat on PEI. The salt marsh provides vital habitat for many species of birds, including great blue heron, red-breasted merganser, American black duck, Nelson’s sparrow, willet, belted kingfisher and common goldeneye.

Only one per cent of PEI’s landmass is made up of salt marshes, making them critically important areas for conservation. Intact salt marshes are some of the world’s most biologically productive and valuable ecosystems, as they support a large variety of birds, plants and marine life.

Salt marshes also played an important role in PEI’s history: salt marsh hay was a vital resource that helped pioneer families survive long winters by providing feed for their livestock. Many salt marshes in PEI have been diked, drained and converted to other land uses.

NCC’s newest properties at Abrams Village build on an existing NCC nature reserve. In addition to their important natural values, these properties provide a buffer to storm surges, which are expected to increase in number as a result of climate change. NCC has also protected lands around the salt marsh to allow this habitat to shift in responses to rising sea levels.

Gathering up garbage galore

Sean Landsman

In three hours, more than 1,040 kilograms of garbage were cleaned off the Percival River Nature Reserve shoreline during NCC’s Garbage Run event in October.

Working between tides, seven Conservation Volunteers and three NCC staff lugged 28 tires and countless lengths of rope and buoys from the beach.

The Percival River is a tidal river, so a lot of marine garbage, such as netting, plastics and even tires, gets swept ashore.

During the clean-up, volunteers also conducted a waterfowl survey. They recorded 10 surf scoters, two bald eagles, five Caspian terns, 14 black-backed gulls and one greater yellow legs.

NCC’s nature reserves on the Cascumpec Sandhills and the Conway Sandhills, in northwest PEI, are part of a 50-kilometre-long coastline of barrier beaches, sand dunes and wetlands. They are also one of the most ecologically significant coastal dune ecosystems in eastern Canada.