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Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Ontario Trails News - protecting land important for Ontario's 2500+ trails

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From the Orillia Packet-Times

Land-trust movement has momentum

TANTA CLARKSpecial to the Packet & Times
The Ontario Land Trust Alliance strengthens land conservation in Ontario by supporting the land-trust movement. SUBMITTED IMAGE
The Ontario Land Trust Alliance strengthens land conservation in Ontario by supporting the land-trust movement. SUBMITTED IMAGE
This past week, YMCA Geneva Park hosted the Ontario Land Trust Alliance (OLTA) gathering, an annual three-day conference that brings together land-trust members and others dedicated to protecting land.
Each year, more than 100 people attend. What an amazing feeling it is to be in a room with other people who are dedicated to a similar mission — to protect nature.
There were a number of workshops at the conference, ranging from a discussion on invasive species to engaging youth in nature. Many of the workshops are led by other land trusts such as the Bruce Trail Conservancy and Ontario Nature. Experts in their field and tax specialists also guide land-trust members through changes to take advantage of. One of the aspects I particularly enjoy at the gathering is the opportunity to share information and learn from each other so we can all do better in our important work.
In Ontario, there are more than 40 land trusts that collectively protect and steward more than 80,000 acres of land. Of the other land trusts, the Couchiching Conservancy is one of the largest and oldest, with the exception of the Bruce Trail Conservancy, which is turning 50 years old). Many of the other land trusts either have no staff and are run by volunteers or have a small staff.
You can learn about other land trusts in Ontario at olta.ca. The Couchiching Conservancy started from the same point and 21 years later, we have four full-time and two-part time staff members. And our biggest accomplishment to date? We now protect an area much larger than the entire City of Orillia.
According to the Ontario Biodiversity Strategy, there are 15 targets to work toward, one of which is to conserve more land: “By 2020, at least 17% of terrestrial and aquatic systems are conserved through well-connected networks of protected areas and other effective area-based conservation measures.”
You can read the all of the goals at the Ontario Biodiversity Council website.
The Couchiching Conservancy is also planning for the future. Our 2014-19 strategy plan outlines a number of goals for the future, one of which is to protect an additional 2,500 acres by 2019. By partnering with other organizations, we are making a difference.
Thank you to the OLTA for its work and supporting land trusts. It’s wonderful so many people are taking action today to ensure the beautiful natural spaces that make Ontario unique are protected for future generations to enjoy.
Tanya Clark is the development co-ordinator at the Couchiching Conservancy, a non-profit land trust that helps to protect thousands of acres of wild land in the area. For more information, visit couchichingconserv.ca