Creating Corridors of Connected Wilderness

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Thomas C. Agnew Nature Reserve. Photo by D. Hangaard.

The creation of wildlife corridors has become more urgent in the face of a rapidly changing climate. The reality has been reflected in The Couchiching Conservancy’s approach to updating its natural heritage acquisition strategy. Working with partners over the last two years we have developed the document Identifying Priority Sites in Simcoe County for Conservation Securement. It identifies several high-priority zones within the Conservancy’s coverage area. Through this process, it became clear the importance of the Black River Wildlands region.

Mapping was done of Species at Risk occurrences, connection to existing protected areas (with land trusts, Conservation Authorities, parks, etc), waterways, forest cover and more. Consideration was also given for highest threats, protections in place, fragmentation and more. Corridors of protected wilderness matters. These are the bridges for species to move. Corridors reduce fragmentation, which has a big impact on species survival. A UN report that concludes a million species are threatened with extinction, and the fact that many Canadian provinces could become ‘climate refuges’ for animals heading north to escape rising temperatures. We are working towards creating the starting point of the wildest spaces left in Ontario.

4,000

additional acres is the goal to be protected by 2025

thousands

of species who rely on this area as migration stops or year round habitat

49

species at some level of risk of disappearing forever

390

acres protected since the start of our new Strategic Plan in 2020

1. Identify biological hotspots using data such as Species at Risk, habitat and atlases

2. Find opportunities for protection to create connectivity between places we protect, wilderness areas protected by other organizations, Indigenous led areas and private land owners

3. Create a roadmap for land protection priorities for the next 25 years