Island Nature Trust Enters Fifth Decade with Renewed Sense of Purpose

Four new Directors named to the Board and search for new Executive Director begins

Island Nature Trust is a non-profit, membership driven, private registered charity dedicated to the permanent protection of natural areas on Prince Edward Island.

On Thursday, the organization held its Annual General Meeting in Charlottetown. It was an occasion to thank members and those who donated land and financial support to the Trust, as well as to present the way forward for the Island-led non-profit that has acquired and protected environmentally vulnerable land since 1979. For Island Nature Trust, the way forward includes greater community engagement, an improved rate of land acquisition and a new approach to stewardship.

The board, staff and general members of Island Nature Trust spoke to an escalation in the pace of change on PEI, both from development and climate perspectives. This creates a growing sense of urgency to protect an integrated, robust network of natural areas to serve future generations of Islanders.

To better face the challenges ahead, the current Executive Director, Megan Harris, will move into a strategic role focused on acquisition and stewardship. The Trust will now begin the search for a new Executive Director, a position that will now emphasize organizational growth and development.

The organization’s strategic renewal was also accompanied by the nomination of four new Directors to the board of Island Nature Trust.

Marie-Ann Bowden – During her career at the College of Law, University of Saskatchewan, Marie-Ann actively pursued research and teaching in the areas of environmental law, property and water law. Since retiring Professor Emeritus from the College, she has returned to PEI and has joined the Board of the Upton Farmlands Trust and helped secure a new Water Act with her colleagues at the Coalition for the Protection of PEI Waters.

Tyler Coady – Tyler is a Canadian Armed Forces Veteran who has obtained a B.A. Psychology (Honours) at UPEI and an M.A. Military Psychology at Adler University, Chicago. He has several published research articles and has a strong background in behavioural sciences. Combined with work in peer support and crisis negotiations, Tyler helps other veterans reconnect with nature.

Roger E. Coffin – Roger spent 20 years in the private sector as a manager and entrepreneur, followed by a career in the public sector that included business support and aerospace recruitment. Roger has been involved with outdoor organizations mainly in the areas of hunting and fishing. Roger is a life member of Margaree Salmon Association, Miramichi Salmon Association and now Island Nature Trust.

Gordon MacKay – Gordon, who has practiced law since 1980, comes to the Island Nature Trust with extensive personal and professional volunteer experience. He has served as a Commissioner on the Judicial Review Commission (PEI), the Treasurer of the Law Foundation of Prince Edward Island, and President of the Federation of Law Societies of Canada. He has also chaired the Red Cross Multi-Sport Relay and the Prince Edward Island United Way Campaign, as well as the Inspire fundraising campaign of the University of Prince Edward Island.

“This is an important time for Island Nature Trust and our newly named Board members will compliment the current board’s skill set to implement the new strategic plan as we work toward an even brighter future for the natural areas in our province.”, said June Jenkins Sanderson, President of Island Nature Trust.

In addition to the naming of new Board members, the Trust also awarded the 2020 Hon. J. Angus MacLean Natural Areas Award to nominee Ms. Jeanne Maki. Ms. Maki has spent her adult life working to safeguard one of PEI’s most important and threatened ecosystems: our forests. As a testament to her dedication, she recently designated close to 100 acres of woodlands in the Pinette-Belfast area as protected natural area under the private stewardship option of the PEI Natural Areas Protection Act.

Quick Facts

  • The Island Nature Trust was created in 1979.
  • The Trust is governed by a volunteer Board of Directors who provide the strategic direction and priorities for the organization.
  • The Trust is committed to environmentally and socially responsible management of natural areas on PEI.
  • The Trust is a key provider of technical, science-based knowledge on land stewardship and wildlife on PEI for landowners, governments and partner environmental groups.

Ben Russell – Communications Manager ben@islandnaturetrust.ca

Megan Harris – Executive Director exdir@islandnaturetrust.ca

Crown Point Coastal Headland Saved: A Wildlife Kingdom Wakes Up

Crown Point headland, home to a diverse range of coastal and wetland wildlife, has been secured by Island Nature Trust thanks to the outstanding support of Environment and Climate Change Canada, MapleCross Fund, and roughly one hundred individual Islanders. When INT first invited the public to donate towards its acquisition in February, it was a land in hibernation – lying dormant under a crisp layer of snow. With Spring now fully sprung, this dynamic natural space is starting to reveal its gifts for Islanders to discover. It is a land waking up!

Amid the turbulence of COVID-19, the acquisition of Crown Point with its multitude of flora and fauna is a healing balm for the human spirit. It is a kingdom teeming with wildlife. The 120-acre land parcel now protected is a rich mix of salt marsh, coastal cliff, forested bluff and peatland habitats that provide homes for countless birds and small mammals. Water-birds forage along the tideline while harbour seals loaf offshore in a vibrant setting that will now be protected for generations of Islanders to appreciate forever.

The proximity of this undeveloped headland to the growing community of Stratford, PEI meant the window to secure its protection was limited.  Stratford is experiencing extensive population growth, placing the nearby coastal ecosystem under pressure from both land and sea.  Holding this land in trust means Island Nature Trust can protect this critical bionetwork and coastal interface in perpetuity. MapleCross Fund and individual Islanders heard the urgency of our requests for support and worked at the eleventh hour to ensure we did not need to carry a loan from our sister land trust in Nova Scotia.

With over 90% of PEI’s coastline in private ownership, human use can and does impact on the sharing of coastal resources. This stretch of shoreline with its extensive salt marsh wetlands are critical resting places for migrating shorebirds and waterfowl moving north – south on the Atlantic Migratory Flyway. Casting an eye ahead, Island Nature Trust hopes to work with new neighbours and supporters to protect the broader span of continuous saltmarsh along Pownal Bay, China Point and Orwell Bay for these long-distance wild migrants. This acquisition experience has shown us once again that we can depend on the incredible generosity of the people of Prince Edward Island as well as regional and national conservation partners to support the conservation of our iconic red Island shores.

Notes to editors:

  • Island Nature Trust is the oldest private land trust, working since 1979 to protect land in PEI and manage it responsibly. INT is an independent, membership-based, nongovernment, Canadian charity that is province-wide in scope and fuelled by the passion of Islanders for their beautiful rural island landscape. We work to conserve land for its intrinsic value so that we continue to benefit from the natural services it provides for the community – clean water, clean air and a livable environment.
  • Island Nature Trust acquires, manages, and protects forever a network of natural areas throughout PEI for the benefit of wildlife and local people. Over the course of 40 years, we have acquired and provide stewardship for over 5,000 acres of land in 53 natural areas across the province. These conservation achievements would not be possible without the engagement and continued support of Island communities. We are a key provider of technical, science-based knowledge on land stewardship and wildlife in PEI for landowners, governments, and partner environmental groups.
  • This acquisition is part  of a collaborative effort of the three regional Maritime land trusts (Island Nature Trust, Nature Trust of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia Nature Trust), targeting wetland and adjoining upland securement in areas with healthy, diverse coastal and riparian wetland.
  • 118 acres have been acquired with donations of over $80,000 received from the public towards its acquisition.
  • The majority contribution was funded through the Canada Nature Fund (Environment and Climate Change Canada), North American Waterfowl Management Plan, Eastern Habitat Joint Venture supporting portion.
  • Purchase of this property by Island Nature Trust has the blessing of the Mi’kmaq Confederacy of Prince Edward Island.

Contact:

Ben Russell – Communications Manager ben@islandnaturetrust.ca

Megan Harris – Executive Director exdir@islandnaturetrust.ca

Increasing Protection for PEI Beaches

Every summer, staff and volunteers at Island Nature Trust (INT) and Parks Canada staff at PEI National Park work to educate beach users and protect the endangered Piping Plover which nests on PEI beaches. This summer, these stewardship efforts will receive increased support from three enforcement agencies: Environment Canada Wildlife Enforcement Division, PEI’s Department of Justice and Public Safety – Investigation & Enforcement Section, and Parks Canada, Law Enforcement Branch.

These agencies will be working in collaboration with INT and Parks Canada to protect Piping Plovers and their shoreline habitat by educating the public and ensuring compliance with protective laws included in the Migratory Birds Convention Act, the Species at Risk Act and Canada National Parks Act. Enforcement agencies will be increasing patrols on beaches across PEI with nesting shorebirds. This time of year is critical in protecting both nests and chicks from disturbance.

In recent years, multiple charges were laid by Provincial Conservation Officers for motor vehicles on beaches and sand dunes, while Parks Canada Law Enforcement Officers issued charges for visitors with dogs in closed areas. 

“Our beaches are popular destinations for Islanders during the summer, but are fragile ecosystems are also home to some of our most vulnerable wildlife. We hope to share this message with Islanders this summer and keep our beaches safe for everyone”, says PEI Investigation and Enforcement Division Manager, Wade MacKinnon.

Beaches are important habitat for wildlife:  many species of shorebirds stopover on PEI beaches every summer, while migrating north to nest. A few species remain throughout the summer, including the Piping Plover, which is vulnerable as it nests on the open beach, between the edge of the dune and the high tide line. Piping Plover rely heavily on camouflage in the cobble-sand area of the upper beach to protect their young from natural predation. Any disturbance that gives away the location of their nest puts the eggs and young at risk and leads to lower success in raising chicks.

Both the Island Nature Trust and Parks Canada take action to contribute to the recovery of Piping Plovers:   

  • In PEI National Park, Piping Plover nesting beaches are closed to the public and domestic animals (including dogs) are prohibited on park beaches from April 1 – October 15 annually.
  • On provincial beaches, INT staff install symbolic fencing with signs and rope around nesting areas. When visiting a provincial beach, you can help reduce disturbance to nesting birds by staying close to the water’s edge, keeping your pets on leash, and taking your trash home or placing it in a garbage bin. Additionally, the Provincial Government has signed Provincial beaches that have nesting Plovers requiring dog owners to have their dog on a leash.

Notes to editors:

  • Piping Plovers nest on PEI’s north and eastern shores from mid-April to mid-July. In 2018, 56 individual Piping Plovers returned to nest on PEI beaches.
  • Threats to Piping Plovers include: human disturbance, vehicles on beaches, off-leash pets, and predators, which are often attracted by garbage left on the beach. 
  • Reports of illegal activity on provincial beaches can be reported to PEI’s Department of Justice- Investigation & Enforcement Division (902-368-4808); in PEI National Park, call 1 877-8523100
  • Reports of Piping Plover on beaches can be sent to Island Nature Trust (902-892-7513).
  • For updates on beach closures and the status of nesting Piping Plovers in PEI National Park, please visit our “2019 Plover Watch” web page, available at www.pc.gc.ca/pei 

Contact:

Vicki Johnson
Coordinator, Piping Plover Program 
Island Nature Trust
plover@islandnaturetrust.ca
Work: 902-892-7513

Wade MacKinnon
Manager of Investigation and Enforcement Environment, Labour and Justice
wjmackinnon@gov.pe.ca
Work: 902-368-4808

Kerry-Lynn Atkinson, M.Sc.
Coordinator, Species at Risk Program
Coordonnatrice, Programme d’espèces en peril
Parks Canada | Parcs Canada
Prince Edward Island Field Unit | Unite de gestion, Ile-du-Prince-Edouard
kerry-lynn.atkinson@canada.ca 
Telephone | Téléphone:  902-672-6367