Rose Island Nature Reserve

Posted on February 9, 2021

286 acres of old-growth forest and wetlands protected on Rose Island

New Rose Island Nature Reserve will be place for public and school groups to connect with nature

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We are delighted to announce that 286 acres of old-growth forest and wetlands on Carling Township’s Rose Island are now a permanent nature reserve.

The Rose Island Nature Reserve protects the remaining 286 undeveloped acres of the 400-acre Rose Island, which has long been a priority for conservation due to its ecological significance. The island contains some of the last remaining old-growth forest in Southern Ontario, and is one of the few places with highly diverse deciduous forest on the eastern Georgian Bay coast. Its sandy, glaciolacustrine soils are a rare remnant of glacial deposits in the region. The property also boasts 70 acres of very productive wetlands, including two large interior swamps and two coastal marshes.

At least ten species at risk call Rose Island home, including the Monarch, Eastern Foxsnake, and Blanding’s Turtle.The island also serves as an important connection for many of the region’s animals. “Rose Island is a critical link in a coastal migration corridor that reaches a pinch point around Parry Sound,” says Bill Lougheed, Executive Director of the Georgian Bay Land Trust. “Our goal has always been to maintain the integrity of this corridor, which allows wildlife to pass between the lands of Wasauksing First Nation to the south, Killbear Provincial Park to the north, and beyond.”

The Rose Island Nature Reserve will be open to visitors for low-impact day use, and will provide opportunities for people to enjoy and learn about nature. An existing trail system allows much of the property to be explored on foot. We also hope to host school field trips, educational events, and ecological research projects.

Protection of the Rose Island Nature Reserve was made possible by the generosity of many supporters. The Government of Canada contributed funding through the Natural Heritage Conservation Program, part of Canada’s Nature Fund. Significant contributions were also made by the beneficiaries of the Estate of Rodney and Marian Watt (Valerie Zawilski, Rosalie Graham, Stephen Zawilski, and Catherine Svendsen), the MapleCross Fund, the McLean Foundation, and the Echo Foundation. We would also like to thank the local community for stepping up tremendously to provide the final resources necessary to make the Rose Island Nature Reserve a reality.

Residents of Rose Island or the larger West Carling community who would like to be involved in the ongoing stewardship, care, and enjoyment of this beautiful property are encouraged to reach out to the Georgian Bay Land Trust. If you are interested in learning more, or joining us as a Property Steward, please contact Brooks Greer at