Bird watchers are welcome in newly protected Quebec wetlands - Montreal - DiscoveryCampus
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Bird watchers are welcome in newly protected Quebec wetlands – Montreal

Bird watchers are welcome in newly protected Quebec wetlands – Montreal

01:30 06 February in Uncategorized

Birders are invited to spot rare species in a newly protected wetland on Île de Grâce, located in the St. Lawrence River just west of Trois-Rivières.

The 25-hectare purchase was a team effort by the provincial and federal governments, conservation groups and the United States.

It was announced by the Nature Conservancy of Canada on Feb. 2 — World Wetlands Day.

A small breed of heron which is listed as threatened under the Canadian Species at Risk Act, the least bittern, is one of the animals being protected though the purchase.

But the Nature Conservancy hopes more species will be found.

“We would welcome birders for the red headed woodpecker,” said Joël Bonin, senior conservation director with the Nature Conservancy of Canada in Québec.

“There are only a few, half a dozen, records of that species,” he added.

He said they have been seen on the neighbouring highland. 

The newly acquired wetland links plots of land already owned by the Nature Conservancy, which preserves eight islands in the Lac-Saint-Pierre archipelago.

Île de Grâce

The plot of wetland is on Île de Grâce, in the St. Lawrence River. (Claude Duchaine/Nature Conservancy of Canada)

But the wetlands’ newfound protection by not-for-profit groups doesn’t mean they are off limits.

Bonin said in the past some of the wetlands the organization oversees have been used for organic farming, or as a summer camp spot for kids.

“When we talk about protection it’s really becoming the owner and making sure it’s managed for nature, but also for people in the surrounding area,” Bonin said.

Federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna stated in a news release about the purchase that conservation efforts preserve “Canada’s natural heritage.”

“Wetlands such as these are vital to preserving our biodiversity and protecting our environment from the effects of climate change,” McKenna said.

Inhabited before flooding

The land had to be bought from families since the area has historically been inhabited by people — though flooding in the 19th century made it nearly impossible for people to stay, Bonin said

When the Nature Conservancy makes purchases like this one, negotiating with families usually takes a few months, but can drag on for years.

Sometimes families choose to donate their land instead of sell.

Bonin said that land purchases are supported by private donations which the government matches.

He estimates that for every dollar a person donates, it becomes up to four dollars though Quebec, Canada and the U.S. matching the initial donation.  

“Governments are creating those incentives to encourage people to invest in nature,” Bonin said.

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