New funding for species at risk work in Georgian Bay

Posted on September 19, 2019

We’re thrilled to announce that the federal government has committed $1.9 million to species at risk protection efforts in the Georgian Bay area.

On September 4th, Minister of the Environment and Climate Change Catherine McKenna visited Toronto to launch the Community-Nominated Priority Places (CNPP) program, a subset of the Species Stream of Canada’s Nature Fund. Announced in 2018, the Nature Fund is a federal commitment to invest $500 million in land and species protection across Canada over five years. The CNPP program funds collaborative, community-driven projects that will improve outcomes for multiple at-risk species in priority places.

Earlier this year, the Georgian Bay Biosphere Reserve, Georgian Bay Land Trust, Magnetawan First Nation, and Shawanaga First Nation submitted an application to have the Georgian Bay Biosphere Region recognized as a Community Nominated Priority Place. Our application put forward a collaborative, 4-year project that will combine our expertise in research, planning, and mitigation work to address threats to target species throughout the region.

We’re delighted that our application was well-received and Georgian Bay has been chosen as one of 15 CNPPs across the country. Environment and Climate Change Canada will provide $1.9 million over 4 years to our project, which will be shared among our community partners. Each dollar provided by the Canadian government must be matched by recipient organizations through fundraising and in-kind contributions, so we will need your help through matching dollars.

Georgian Bay is an ideal place for this work because of its concentration of species and strong local partnerships for protecting them. The Georgian Bay Biosphere is recognized by UNESCO for its unique and high quality habitat, which is home to 50 species at risk including Blanding’s Turtle, Massasauga Rattlesnake, Algonquin Wolf and Eastern Whip-poor-will. The area has become a refuge for many animals whose numbers have significantly declined in other parts of the province. But as pressures on our area grow, these species face increasing threats from road mortality, habitat loss, climate change, and more.








This new project is designed to “accelerate our collective capacity to address threats to species at risk with better planning and policy tools, science-based management, and strategies to reduce the threats to these species,” says Greg Mason, General Manager of the Georgian Bay Biosphere Reserve. “Over four years, our project will result in more effective landscape governance for priority species in the Georgian Bay Biosphere region. It will protect ecosystem services, and will help to mitigate the impacts of climate change, while creating jobs in the conservation sector.”

The Georgian Bay Land Trust’s role in the project will focus on mapping critical habitats and corridors for species movement, increasing our array of Motus bird tracking stations, and working with municipalities to reduce habitat fragmentation. In our Executive Director Bill Lougheed’s words: “New and existing information about species’ populations and enhanced mapping tools will inform land use and coastal management models. Reptiles and amphibians at risk of road mortality will be better understood and managed. A variety of bat species will benefit from university research partnerships, as well as birds detected by radio telemetry.”

We’re so grateful to Environment and Climate Change Canada for their support, and are looking forward to working with our fantastic partners and the many other community groups, First Nations, and organizations that will be part of this project over the next four years. In addition to the four applicants, key partners include Bird Studies Canada, Carling Township, Friends of Killbear Park, Killbear Provincial Park, Township of Georgian Bay, Township of the Archipelago, Wasauksing First Nation, and West Parry Sound Geography Network.

Watch a video of Minister Catherine McKenna’s announcement below. Greg Mason (Georgian Bay Biosphere Reserve)’s remarks on the project begin at the 13:45 mark: