The COVID-19 pandemic has reminded Canadians how important nature is to our health and well-being. By investing in conserving and restoring our natural environment, we can fight climate change, protect our iconic Canadian biodiversity, and ensure that Canadians across the country have access to nature in their communities.
Today, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, the Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, announced an additional 268 hectares will be added to the Portobello Creek National Wildlife Area, increasing the ecological connectivity of the national wildlife area and further protecting the unique wetland habitat.
Initially created in 1995, the Portobello Creek National Wildlife Area is open throughout the year for activities like hiking; wildlife viewing; swimming and boating in the summer; and cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and skating in the winter. The national wildlife area hosts a regionally unique wetland complex and forested floodplain habitat that provides important production, staging, and migration habitat for waterfowl. Protecting a greater area within the Portobello Creek region will reduce threats to species at risk such as the Canada warbler, common nighthawk, Eastern wood pewee, and the least bittern.
The additional six parcels of land purchased from J.D. Irving, Limited (178 hectares) and Five Islands Forest Development Ltd. (90 hectares) will increase this national wildlife area’s footprint to just over 3,200 hectares. This expansion brings Canada one step closer to its goal of conserving 25 percent of its land and inland waters and 25 percent of its oceans by 2025. Funding for this initiative comes from the historic Budget 2018 investment of $1.3 billion in the Nature Legacy initiative.
“Our government is pleased to support the expansion of the Portobello Creek National Wildlife Area, in New Brunswick, which will support our iconic biodiversity and provide access to nature for Canadians. Together, we are making progress toward Canada’s goal of conserving a quarter of its land and a quarter of its oceans by 2025.”
– The Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Environment and Climate Change
“We are pleased to work with partners like Environment and Climate Change Canada on this important conservation initiative. J.D. Irving, Limited has long-standing partnerships with groups like the Nature Conservancy of Canada, Bird Studies Canada, and Ducks Unlimited Canada on wetland habitat conservation projects. Around the Portobello Creek, we are already involved in silver maple floodplain and other conservation areas within five kilometres of this site as part of our voluntary conservation program of over 1700 sites.”
– Jason Limongelli, Vice President, Irving Woodlands Division, J.D. Irving, Limited
“On behalf of its 25 individual shareholders, our company is pleased to be in a position to contribute to the full implementation of the Portobello Creek National Wildlife Area. Through land-purchase agreements, in 2014 and 2020, we were able to fully protect over 125 hectares of wetland and forest for wildlife. Five Islands Forest Development Ltd. holds woodland in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, applying principles and practices of long-term sustainable forest management.”
– Alexander (Sandy) Manley, President, Five Islands Forest Development Ltd.
Connecting habitat is important to protect migration routes and breeding areas for species at risk.
Canada’s network of protected areas plays a vital role in conserving and restoring healthy, resilient ecosystems and contributing to the recovery of species at risk.
There are currently 55 national wildlife areas across Canada (some located in regions that include relatively undisturbed ecosystems) containing nationally significant habitats for animals or plants.
Conserving and restoring nature means improving our own health and well-being. Simply spending time in nature has proven benefits for mental health, and living near nature reduces the risk for cardiovascular and other diseases.
Through Budget 2018, the Government announced $1.3 billion for the Nature Legacy initiative. This amount represents the largest investment in nature conservation in Canadian history.