Bridging the Gap with Private Stewardship: Protection Options for Landowners

While many may not have the opportunity to witness the seamless interplay between nature and human existence or comprehend the remarkable ecosystems thriving in natural areas, there are a significant number of individuals who share a profound connection with the natural world, within their own backyards. Island Nature Trust invites individuals who cherish the Island’s ecological treasures to play an integral role in preserving our natural environment.

For those who are eager to make a difference in the realm of land conservation and own land, private protection is a unique path to explore.

Prince Edward Island is known for its natural beauty, yet much of the landscape has witnessed the impacts of human activities, from forestry and agriculture to development where approximately 87% of its land is privately owned. INT recognizes the importance of collaborating with like-minded individuals who share a common goal: to safeguard as much of the Island’s remaining natural areas as possible. This endeavor is driven by a deep commitment to nurturing the Island’s ecological integrity for the benefit of both humans and wildlife, now and in the future.

For landowners who hold the ecological integrity of their property in high regard, private protection offers a unique opportunity to promote the perpetual naturalization of their land. The process of protecting land varies according to individual values and goals, and at INT, we are able to assist landowners with conservation of ecosystems and the promotion of naturalization through the PEI Natural Areas Protection Act (NAPA).

Under NAPA, a restrictive covenant serves as the guardian of the designated natural area, shielding it from development and regulating permissible activities. The strength of this protection lies in its permanence; once a natural area is designated under NAPA, the restrictive covenant cannot be removed by the landowner. This ensures that the property is preserved as a natural area for both present and future generations.

Considerations on the Path of Protection

When considering land protection through NAPA, it’s important to weigh the benefits and responsibilities. Some of the notable advantages include:

Permanent Protection:

Land designated under NAPA is safeguarded in perpetuity, ensuring its ecological integrity is preserved for the long term. The landowner cannot remove the designation, and the protection runs with the property – so all future landowners will be subject to NAPA restrictions.

Support for Biodiversity:

Protected areas under NAPA promote and maintain biodiversity, allowing native species to thrive and contributing to a healthy ecosystem.

Relief from Property Tax:

Land designated under NAPA is exempt from property taxes, offering financial relief to landowners.

The landowner has the flexibility to designate the entire property or only a portion. For landowners residing on their property, they can exclude their home, yard, and buildings from the designation. However, due to the permanent nature of this protection mechanism, it’s crucial to make an informed decision, understanding that, while you can sell a protected property in the future, its fair market value may be reduced due to the loss of development rights on the protected portion.

For those interested in exploring the avenue of formal protection through NAPA, INT is ready to provide additional information and guide you through the process, ensuring that your land’s protection aligns with your values and vision.

Exploring Alternatives to NAPA Protection

While formal protection through NAPA offers robust safeguards for your land, INT recognizes that it may not align with everyone’s goals or time constraints. For those with forested land that has been significantly impacted who wish to witness its naturalization, allowing nature to take its course without formal protection is a meaningful option. Consulting with organizations such as Macphail Woods to design a Forest Management Plan is another route. By registering for the Province of PEI’s Forest Enhancement Program, you can access financial support to create and implement a plan focused on sustainable forestry practices, helping your forested land to thrive and maintain its ecological value.

There are many other avenues for positive land stewardship without formal NAPA protection. For example:

  • Embracing ecological silvicultural practices to reintroduce native species that characterizes the Island’s natural landscape.
  • Removing invasive species from your land, creating space for native flora and fauna to flourish.
  • Planting native trees and shrubs to enhance the ecological value of your property.
  • Leaving snags (dead trees) in place to provide essential habitat for wildlife.

Your journey in land stewardship is a personal one. While formal protection through NAPA offers substantial safeguards, it has economic impacts and it’s equally important to explore alternative approaches that align with your values and vision for your land. Whether you choose private protection through NAPA or opt for hands-off land stewardship, your commitment to preserving Prince Edward Island’s natural beauty is invaluable. INT can help you with whatever path you choose!

As we look forward to the next magazine issue in February 2024, we invite you to explore our ‘Be a Guardian for Nature’ supporter segment, where we will delve into the myriad ways to actively support INT’s mission through hands-on conservation, volunteering, and participation in events. By becoming a guardian for nature through hands-on land stewardship, you will become a vital part of the effort to preserve Prince Edward Island’s unique ecosystems.

In addition, we will showcase individuals and their personal stories of private protection, highlighting their dedication to preserving the Island’s natural treasures and sharing their inspirational journeys. Together, we’ll continue to protect and celebrate the beauty and ecological significance of Prince Edward Island for generations to come.

For more information, contact Cassandra Stoddart our Private Stewardship Coordinator at or call (902) 892-7513.

‘If I Could Hug an Island’: The Song That Mends Hearts and Helps Heal the Island

In the aftermath of post-tropical storm Fiona’s devastating impact on Prince Edward Island, Island singer-songwriter Noah Malcolm found a powerful way to channel his feelings of grief and helplessness into a beautiful composition. His heartwarming song, ‘If I Could Hug an Island,’ has resonated deeply with Islanders, offering comfort and warmth during a challenging time.

Be Creative for Nature: Music, Art, and Conservation Unite

Creativity knows no bounds, and in this segment, ‘Be Creative for Nature,’ we explore how imaginative minds like Noah Malcolm’s are making a profound difference in the world of conservation. By utilizing their creative talents, artists, musicians, and entrepreneurs are not only crafting beautiful works but also contributing to the protection of nature. Noah Malcolm’s initiative is a remarkable example of how the artistic realm intersects with the conservation world. ‘If I Could Hug an Island’ stands as a tribute to Prince Edward Island’s enduring spirit and a testament to the healing power of art and community support. In this interview, we delve into Noah’s inspiration, his hopes for the song, and his commitment to support Island Nature Trust’s conservation work through its release.

Q1: Can you tell us about the inspiration behind ‘If I Could Hug an Island’?

I wrote the song a few days after Fiona struck. I still remember the overwhelming grief we all felt as the images of the devastation began pouring in—dunes, forests, and the profound loss. Despite feeling helpless, I realized that I have the power to write songs. So, sitting in my apartment, I started crafting this song with a heartfelt desire to convey my love for the Island.

Q2: Can you share your Fiona experience?

My experience during Fiona wasn’t as severe as many others. I live downtown, so I had power back relatively quickly. But my family in St. Peters didn’t have power for nearly two weeks. A vivid memory is me walking in the pitch-black Charlottetown, trying to find my friend at 1 a.m. with just a BBQ lighter because my phone had died. It wasn’t as bad for me, but I deeply felt the island’s pain.

Q3: When you performed the song at the Festival of Small Halls, the audience’s response was remarkable. Can you describe how it felt to see people connect with your song?

It was a transformative experience when, for the first time, I taught the lyrics to the audience. I had envisioned it as a song that people could sing with me, and it became a reality. Four hundred people sang along that night at Zion, and it was an unforgettable moment. The overwhelming response inspired me to record the song.

Q4: What do you hope people take away from ‘If I Could Hug an Island’?

I hope the song provides comfort and connection to the Island and its people, especially those who experienced Fiona. Ideally, it becomes part of the island’s cultural fabric, resonating with Islanders for years to come. I want people to feel something when they hear it, a connection to the island and its enduring spirit.

Q5: You’ve chosen to use the song’s release to raise funds for Island Nature Trust. Can you tell us more about that initiative?

The song was released on the one-year anniversary of Fiona, and all proceeds from its downloads are directed to INT who have been doing incredible work post-Fiona. I think as individuals, it’s easy to feel like we can’t take up space or enact change. But we see time and time again, in every global issue, that when people come together as a collective, there’s power in numbers. No donation or action is too small. And when it comes to the environment, we are dealing with finite resources. It’s in everyone’s best interest to help protect and conserve what we have.  You can download the song from my Bandcamp page, and it’s a ‘pay what you can’ model. If you wish to contribute more than the song’s base price, it becomes a donation to Island Nature Trust.

Q6: As a creative artist, how do you view the role of art and creativity in raising awareness and support for environmental causes like Island Nature Trust’s mission?

I believe people connect to things more when it’s presented in an artistic way. I think if an artist has an opportunity to make even a small difference through their art, they should try and do so. I saw the response to my song on social media and received so many messages about the emotional impact it was making, so I wanted to see if that emotion could be directed to tangible action.  Noah Malcolm’s emotional song ‘If I Could Hug an Island’ has offering solace to the island and its people during a challenging time. The song stands as a tribute to Prince Edward Island’s enduring spirit and a testament to the healing power of art and community support. Buy a digital track of Noah’s song for $2 with all proceeds going to Island Nature Trust to carry out vital stewardship in our protected natural areas across the Island.

Click here to buy the song:

Click here to listen to Noah’s CBC interview