Provincial government allocates additional $14 million to Greenlands Conservation Partnership

By Michael Riley
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
The Bancroft Times

The Ontario Land Trust Alliance issued a media release on June 27 revealing that the Ontario government had allocated an additional $14 million to the Greenlands Conservation Partnership, to help conserve and protect ecologically important natural areas across Ontario. It represents the single largest fund to secure private land for conservation in the province. The announcement was made at the Nature Conservancy of Canada’s Hastings Wildlife Junction Nature Reserve, off Hwy 62 between Madoc and Bancroft, part of which was donated by Land’escapes Ben Samann to the NCC back in 2021.  

The GCP is a joint collaboration between the Ontario government, the NCC and the Ontario Land Trust Alliance. The GCP helps conserve ecologically important natural areas and protects wetlands, grasslands and forests to help mitigate climate change’s effects. Through the GCP, a total of $38 million has been invested to date by the provincial government, and additional match funds are raised from other sources, like individual donations, foundation support through the NCC and OLTA, and other levels of government. 

The OLTA was joined on June 27 by the Honourable David Piccini, the Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks for the announcement of this additional $14 million in funding. Also in attendance were MP Ric Bresee, Madoc Mayor Loyde Blackburn, Mike Hendren, regional vice president of the NCC-Ontario region, the OLTA’s executive director Alison Howson, Samann, the owner of Land’escapes, and Patricia Koval, vice chair of the NCC’s Ontario board and president of the Alan and Patricia Koval Foundation. 

Minister Piccini told the attendees that they’d seen widespread success over the last three years by working in partnership with organizations like the NCC and the OLTA to increase their impact and create opportunities to protect nature. 

“That’s why we’re increasing our investment in the Greenlands Conservation Partnership Program. Together, we’re protecting sensitive natural areas and ensuring a healthy environment Ontarians can enjoy, now and in the future,” he says. 

The OLTA provides community, knowledge sharing and support to land trusts across the province. 

It assists these land trusts to engage their communities to safeguard forests, wetlands, nature, water sources and provide natural climate solutions. OLTA’s local land trust members currently collectively own and steward over 117,000 acres across Ontario with the leadership of thousands of supporters and volunteers each year, and they operate province-wide with over 50 connected charities and communities. 

Howson said that in the first three years of the program, local and community land trusts created 44 new projects that conserve sensitive ecosystems and protect habitats for 85 species at risk.

“[This includes] 23 new properties that provide public access and increase the availability of green spaces for Ontarians to enjoy. Partners of this program, including OLTA, will build on the real measurable benefits already seen, preserving more natural areas of ecological importance and promoting community connection to these natural spaces,” she says. 

Also, during the event, Koval announced a $250,000 commitment from the Alan and Patricia Koval Foundation, that will go towards the Hastings Wildlife Junction area. 

The NCC is Canada’s leading not for profit private land conservation organization, working to safeguard vital natural areas and the species sustained within them. Since 1962, NCC and its partners have protected 35 million acres across Canada, including over 600,000 acres in Ontario. 

Hendren told the crowd that the GCP program is a catalyst in helping bring individuals, corporations, foundations and other levels of government to the conservation table. 

“It really takes everyone to deliver effective conservation for today and for future generations,” he says. “With this funding, we will be able to move quickly to conserve and restore key natural spaces across Ontario that support species at risk, clean water, provide recreational opportunities and help our communities be more resilient to the impacts of climate change by storing carbon, and mitigating floods and droughts.”