British Columbia

Conserving Iclhicwani in the Great Bear Rainforest not only improves connectivity among nearby protected lands, it also safeguards the many plants and wildlife that rely on the Bella Coola River and its connectivity to thrive.
Iclhicwani Conservation Area, BC (Photo by Harvey Thommasen)
Land donors' vision creates sanctuary for birds and other wildlife

Each fall, as Pacific salmon journey up the Bella Coola River in the Great Bear Rainforest, the Iclhicwani conservation area attracts a riot of grizzly bears, bald eagles and other wildlife looking to feast during the spawning season. Located next to the river, this swath of coastal temperate rainforest — a globally rare ecosystem — is also a haven for migratory birds.

Harvey and Carol Thommasen sought to protect this haven when they purchased it as a sanctuary for migrating birds in 2018. They found a long-term solution for their vision to protect the land’s natural values by donating the property to NCC in 2021.

As NCC’s second project in the traditional unceded territory of the Nuxalk Nation, Iclhicwani features 122 hectares of rainforest, floodplain and riverside habitat. It is located about 43 kilometres upstream from the mouth of the Bella Coola River, near NCC’s Tidal Flats conservation area.

Read more: Creating a sanctuary in the Great Bear Rainforest


Since 2021, over 110,000 trees have been planted at the Golden Ranches project, near Edmonton. Over their lifetime, they are expected to capture over 65,000 tonnes of carbon.
Golden Ranches, AB (Photo by Project Forest)
Nature-based Solutions
Working to not only conserve land, but to restore it

Complex problems can be met head-on with nature-based solutions, and there is a bold, exciting new venture happening in Alberta.

Restoration is underway at two sites with partner non-profit organizations Wild + Pine and Project Forest. Both are leaders in nature-based climate solutions, specifically capturing carbon through the restoration of lands previously used for agriculture.

In 2021, NCC and Wild + Pine started restoring 25 hectares of NCC’s H.G. Lawrence project, near Red Deer. Over 55,000 tree and shrub seedlings were planted there in 2021, with additional plantings and weed pull events in 2022. Today, these seedlings are growing toward forming a beautiful mixedwood forest.

In a similar initiative, NCC and Project Forest are restoring parts of Golden Ranches, a conservation site east of Edmonton. Since 2021, over 110,000 trees have been planted here. Over their lifetime, they are expected to capture over 65,000 tonnes of carbon.

With the help of innovative partners, NCC is working to not only conserve land, but to restore it.

Read more: Working to keep the Beaver Hills Wild


Chaplin Lake is not only Canada’s second largest saline lake, it is also home to more than half the world's population of sanderlings. The conservation of Mackie Ranch, on its shores, means more of this precious habitat is now protected.
Mackie Ranch, SK (Photo by Jason Bantle)
The second-largest saline lake in Canada
One of only three sites in Canada designated to be of hemispheric significance

A saline lake in the middle of Canada? The future of this little-known natural gem, located as far away from the ocean as you can get in Canada, is now ensured.

Located along the Trans-Canada Highway, between Moose Jaw and Swift Current, over half of the world’s population of sanderlings stop to rest and feed at Chaplin Lake — the second-largest saline lake in Canada — each year during their spring migration. Many other migratory shorebirds also visit the lake, such as semipalmated sandpiper, Baird’s sandpiper, red knot and piping plover.

Chaplin Lake is known for its remarkable birdwatching opportunities. Now, a large section of grassland, as well as a section of an important shoreline along the lake, is protected.

NCC’s Mackie Ranch project is located along the eastern shoreline of Chaplin Lake. A portion of the Mackie Ranch property is located within the boundaries of the Chaplin-Old Wives-Reed Lakes Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network site. This site is one of only three in Canada designated as being of hemispheric significance by the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network site for shorebirds, and the only one that is located inland.

Mackie Ranch shelters 471 hectares of endangered grasslands and wetlands, and an additional 178 hectares of tame grassland. The area is home to many plants and animals, including Saskatchewan’s provincial bird, sharp-tailed grouse. There are at least two active grouse mating leks on the ranch. The area also provides habitat for at-risk species, including chestnut-collared longspur, ferruginous hawk and long-billed curlew.

The conservation site has been named in recognition of the generations of stewardship by the Mackie family, and will continue to be used for cattle grazing to help keep the grasslands healthy and support the local economy.

Read more: Prairie hot spot for shorebirds now conserved


The future of Lake Ranch, one of the largest, privately owned tracts of tall grass prairie in Manitoba in the globally significant North, West and East Shoal Lakes Important Bird Area, is now ensured.
Lake Ranch, MB (Photo by Thomas Fricke)
Lake Ranch
Conserving one of the largest, privately owned tracts of tall grass prairie in Manitoba

Tall grass prairies are globally rare, iconic to Manitoba and quickly disappearing. That’s why NCC has conserved one of the largest, privately owned tracts of land in the province that supports this endangered ecosystem.

Threatened grassland birds, such as Sprague’s pipit and bobolink, use the large expanses of grasslands here. Migratory wetland birds, like western grebe (a species of special concern), flock to the expansive wetlands along the lake.

This area makes up part of the globally significant North, West and East Shoal Lakes Important Bird Area. At nearly 2,700 hectares, Lake Ranch represents a large contribution to efforts to ensure that this critical grassland continues to support the prairie lives that depend on it.

The Lake Ranch project marks the start of NCC’s grasslands campaign in Manitoba. We need a whole-of-society approach to ensure the future of Manitoba’s grasslands.

Read more: Save Manitoba’s grasslands


Hastings Wildlife Junction, a conservation project of staggering magnitude, has come to fruition in southern Ontario in an area typically teeming with development.
Hastings Wildlife Junction, ON (Photo by Chelsea Marcantonio/NCC staff)
Hastings Wildlife Junction
Critical conservation in southern Ontario

Located south of Bancroft, Ontario, at the junctions of the Algonquin to Adirondacks and The Land Between corridors, is a rare natural area, known as the Hastings Wildlife Junction. Here, wide-ranging mammals like eastern wolf, black bear, moose, pine marten and several species of rare birds and turtles roam through extensive interior forest with an astonishing 98 per cent of natural cover, significant rivers and wetlands. Such an expanse of unfragmented habitat is a rare find in south-central Ontario, where so much of the land has been converted for development.

This year, NCC announced the protection of 5,000 hectares in the Hastings Wildlife Junction. This announcement marked a significant milestone and has opened doors to explore additional opportunities to accelerate conservation in this region.

Read more: Hastings Wildlife Junction, one of Canada’s most biodiverse regions


A small island, known as Île Ronde, is a biodiversity hot spot that was lovingly cared for by its owner for decades. This special place, located on the Rivière des Prairies, is now conserved thanks to a generous gift.
Vikström Island natural sanctuary (Photo by Ralph Samson)
Île Ronde
A generous act of conservation

Tucked between the large islands of Montreal and Île Jésus (Laval) on the Rivière des Prairies is a small island, known as Île Ronde (or Vikström Island natural sanctuary), still in its natural state. This biodiversity hot spot has been lovingly cared for by its owner, Thor Vikström, for more than 50 years. Now, this hidden treasure is conserved for the long term.

Map turtles, a species of special concern, use the island’s banks to bask in the sun. In the spring, ducks — including wood ducks, Vikström’s favourite — can be heard calling after their ducklings. The island is also home to shagbark hickory, a species likely to be designated as provincially threatened or vulnerable, whose frayed bark looks like paper.

Concerned about the island’s future, Vikström sought ways to ensure that it would remain undisturbed for generations to come. After stewarding and caring for the island for half a century, he generously donated it to NCC.

Read more: Thor Vikström, custodian of the Vikström Island natural sanctuary

New Brunswick

Before the discovery of bur oak at The Keyhole, along the west side of Grand Lake, there were only eight known populations left in the province.
The Keyhole, NB (Photo by Mike Dembeck)
The Keyhole
Protecting 70 hectares of wetlands and mature floodplain forest

Behind the cottage community of Princess Park, along the west side of Grand Lake, New Brunswick, lies a stunning cove known as The Keyhole. Grand Lake is the largest lake in the province and connects to the Wolastoq (St. John) River system.

Protecting the intact mature forest along Grand Lake is a conservation priority for NCC, as several plants and animals that were once abundant here are now rare or at risk. One such species is bur oak. Before the discovery of bur oak at The Keyhole, there were only eight known populations left in the province.

Bur oaks in New Brunswick are genetically distinct from other parts of the bur oak range, making it vitally important to protect these remaining trees.

This project was made possible thanks to a partial donation of land by Gloria and Jörg Beyeler, and Audrey and George Peppin, through the federal Ecological Gifts Program.

Read more: Protecting old-growth forest and mitigating localized flooding

Prince Edward Island

The Five Houses Woodland Nature Reserve, just three kilometres from beautiful St. Peter's Bay, in northeastern PEI, is an important carbon sink, offsetting carbon emissions released elsewhere on the island.
Five Houses Woodland Nature Reserve, PEI (Photo by Alec Jardine/NCC staff)
Five Houses Woodland Nature Reserve
Helping PEI achieve its ambitious net zero target

Just three kilometres from beautiful St. Peter’s Bay, in northeastern PEI, lies the Five Houses Woodland Nature Reserve.

This 49-hectare nature reserve consists of an intact Wabanaki (Acadian) forest and freshwater wetlands. The forest boasts trembling aspen, red maple, balsam fir, white birch, white spruce and black spruce.

Several species at risk, such as Canada warbler, olive-sided flycatcher and rare black-backed woodpecker, live here. The area is also an important carbon sink, offsetting carbon emissions released elsewhere on the island.

Conservation areas like this one will help the province of PEI achieve its ambitious net zero target.

The project was made possible by the generosity of individuals and private charity foundations. Funding also came from the Government of Canada’s Target 1 Challenge Fund and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, under the North American Wetlands Conservation Act. NCC is currently fundraising to expand the woodland reserve by raising money to conserve another 14 hectares nearby.

Read more: Conserving valuable forests, wetlands and wildlife.

Nova Scotia

The Upper Ohio Project is situated within one of 19 UNESCO Biosphere Reserves in Canada, and is the third-largest acquisition in NCC's 50-year history in Nova Scotia.
Upper Ohio, NS (Photo by Mike Dembeck)
Upper Ohio Nature Reserve
NCC's third largest land acquisition in Nova Scotia

Let’s celebrate the third-largest land acquisition in NCC’s 50-year history in Nova Scotia!

In 2022, NCC announced the purchase of 950 hectares in Upper Ohio. The Upper Ohio Nature Reserve is surrounded by Indian Fields Provincial Park and the Tobeatic Wilderness Area, all within a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve — one of only 19 such reserves in Canada.

The reserve features large eastern hemlock, sugar maple, red maple, red spruce, white birch, balsam fir, white pine and aspen trees. All of these species are characteristic of the original Acadian forest of the Maritimes. Due to centuries of harvesting, only one to five per cent of mature Acadian forest remains intact in the region.

This new conservation area includes over 25 kilometres of undisturbed lakefront shoreline and 130 hectares of freshwater wetlands. Its wetlands provide habitat to several species at risk, including eastern painted turtle and snapping turtle. Migratory waterfowl, such as Canada goose, mallard, wood duck and ring-necked duck, are also found here. Rare plants, such as Virginia meadow beauty, swamp loosestrife and long-leaved panic grass, grow in this area.

Read more: Conserving rare forests, lake shores and freshwater wetlands

Newfoundland and Labrador

The unique, ecologically significant natural area of the Port au Port Peninsula is critical to the survival of several rare and endangered plants native to Newfoundland and Labrador.
Limestone Barrens, NL (Photo by NCC)
Limestone Barrens
A diversity hot spot on the Port au Port Peninsula

The limestone barrens of the Port au Port Peninsula are anything but barren. A biodiversity hot spot, this ecologically significant natural area is critical to the survival of several rare and endangered plants native to Newfoundland and Labrador, such as Mackenzie’s sweetvetch, Lindley’s aster and low northern rockcress.

NCC staff participated in creating a Limestone Barrens Species at Risk Recovery Plan that was recently accepted by the province. All species included in the plan have adapted to the limestone barrens. Their narrow distributions make them susceptible to human disturbances. The plan provides detailed recovery and management actions that will protect 10 species at risk plants through research, monitoring, restoration, community education and outreach.

Staff also contributed aerial imagery and data for the creation of an overview map, which graphically identifies the various habitats of the area (barrens, heath, forest, vegetation and wetland).

These efforts will be helpful in identifying key areas to protect and also provide a survival plan for the plant species at risk.

Read more: Limestone barrens: a unique natural area