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.

Private Landowner’s Frequently Asked Questions:

Many of Prince Edward Island’s residents have strong ties to the Island and would like to see the natural features that define the landscape preserved for future generations to enjoy. There are several options for private landowners who are interested in protecting their properties from future development and conserving the land’s natural features. Island Nature Trust has an “Options booklet” available for people interested in exploring land conservation opportunities.

For landowners who want to keep their properties in their family for future generations, but also want to ensure that they are not developed in the future, using a legal mechanism such as the Natural Areas Protection Act (NAPA) might be the right option. Protecting land under the NAPA is a big decision, and big decisions are often paired with several questions. We hope to answer a few of them here today.

What tools or options are available to conserve my property?

1. Legally designating your property under the NAPA or Wildlife Conservation Act (WCA)

NAPA is the gold standard of land protection for property and includes a restrictive covenant that is bound to the property’s deed in perpetuity – this is usually reserved for ecologically significant or sensitive land that may contain unique ecosystems or habitats for species at risk. Designated lands can be owned and sold, but they cannot be developed or subdivided. There are often heavy restrictions on NAPA-protected properties, which is why NAPA is more suitable for established parcels that do not require work or maintenance.

WCA is generally more flexible and can allow for more management opportunities and is generally more suitable for parcels that are managed for specific species or wildlife groups. Land can be designated under the WCA for a term (i.e. 20 years), or in perpetuity, these lands can also be owned and sold, but cannot be developed or subdivided while designated.

Working with local watershed groups (i.e. Managing invasive species along streams or planting trees in the riparian zone).

Reporting rare and invasive species – and posting them on iNaturalist.

Protecting land under the NAPA provides benefits such as:

  • Biodiversity conservation
  • Climate change mitigation
  • Preservation of natural areas for future generations.
  • Provincial property tax exemption

What land can be designated under the NAPA?

For land to be protected through the NAPA, it must meet the definition of a natural area. Under the Natural Areas Protection Act, a “natural area” is described as a parcel of land that:

contains natural ecosystems or constitutes the habitat of rare, endangered or uncommon plant or animal species.

contains unusual botanical, zoological, geological, morphological or palaeontological features.

contains natural ecosystems or constitutes the habitat of rare, endangered or uncommon plant or animal species.

provides a haven for seasonal concentrations of birds and animals.

provides opportunities for scientific and educational programs in aspects of the natural environment.

For properties or portions of properties that currently do not fit within the scope of the Natural Areas Protection Act, a landowner can explore other options for conservation, such as the WCA. Properties designated under the WCA contain land that supports wildlife and its habitat.

What activities are prohibited on NAPA-designated land?


destroying or removing of trees, shrubs or other vegetation


or otherwise introducing non-native plant or animal species;

Operating snowmobiles

dune buggies, motorcycles, all-terrain vehicles or any other motor vehicles;


constructing or paving roads or other rights-of-way, driveways, docks, landing strips or parking lots;


or constructing buildings, signs, fences or structures of any kind;


filling, excavating, mining, drilling, dredging or otherwise adding or removing topsoil, loam, gravel, sand, rock, minerals, gas or petroleum products or other surface or sub-surface material of any kind;


drainage ditches, dams, retaining walls, transmission towers and lines, pipelines or other undertaking which affects the topography of the land.

What is permitted on NAPA-designated land?

Legally designated areas can still be enjoyed and maintained, as long as the activities that you wish to carry out are outlined in the NAPA restrictive covenant or other corresponding documents.

Can I remove the NAPA designation?

The NAPA is a permanent mechanism used to protect ecologically significant areas in PEI; these areas are designated as “Natural Areas” and will be conserved in perpetuity. Designation can only be removed from public natural areas on Crown land, by the Minister of Environment, Energy, and Climate Action under very special circumstances which are outlined under Section 3, subsection (3) of the Natural Areas Protection Act.

Are there any costs associated with designating my property under the NAPA?

There are some circumstances where costs may be associated with protecting your land, these include:

Costs may also be associated with the construction of a Forest Management Plan for the property or other stewardship work (i.e. planting trees, and silviculture activities).

How will protecting my land impact the property’s value?

Protecting your land under the NAPA, or other legal mechanisms removes development rights for the property, which will decrease the Fair Market Value of the land. This means the land cannot be developed, commercially harvested, or converted in any other way in perpetuity.

How long does it take to protect my land?

The length of time it takes to protect your land is variable and depends on whether you need to subdivide, perform a survey, have documents reviewed by a lawyer or accountant, etc. since these activities will increase the amount of time. Generally, protecting land under the NAPA takes approximately 6-12 months.

Who can help me protect my land?

  • INT and the Province
  • Other land trusts
  • Ducks Unlimited
  • Nature Conservancy of Canada
  • Municipalities

Ways To Protect Your Land

Private Stewardship

You can retain ownership of the land and still place it under NAPA protection. Our resource guide “Protecting Natural Places in Prince Edward Island”’ provides more detail on this option.

Donate or Sell Your Land

For those who are able, the act of giving land to a land trust so that it may be protected is the ultimate in generosity. Island Nature Trust profoundly appreciates anyone who considers such a gift. 

We all share a unique connection to nature, and our supporters express it in diverse ways.
They are our Champions of Nature, coming from various backgrounds – from hands-on volunteers to
digital advocates, creative fundraisers, and generous donors.

Are you passionate about hands-on conservation efforts or getting directly involved in nature protection?

Are you interested in supporting nature through financial contributions or potentially donating land for long-term protection?

Are you an artisan or entrepreneur and enjoy using your creativity to raise funds for nature conservation?

Do you love using your voice to raise awareness and advocate for environmental causes in your community?

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How To Deal With the Aftermath of Fiona at Home

Stewardship at Home

Melissa Cameron

Fund Development Coordinator

Like many Islanders, our family is grappling with the effects of Hurricane Fiona in both our backyard and in our adopted homeland, the Island. Having moved to Prince Edward Island in 2021 from Toronto, Ontario, the lure of the night sky, the open views and the wonderful community drew us here. We purchased a hobby farm in Orwell. We grew abundant gardens, and our children ran freely outdoors, often playing in the old maple and linden trees where we hung swings. Also new in this past year was a great personal career development. I joined the Island Nature Trust as their new Fund Development Coordinator in September of 2022 and was welcomed by an incredible team of engaged and generous co-workers, all sharing the goal of the protection and preservation of our Island’s natural areas.

As it was for many of our friends and neighbours, Hurricane Fiona drastically altered the landscape of our community and of our property. In the days preceding the storm we prepared as best we could. In the garden, I harvested all that I could from our apple trees. I brought in tomatoes that were barely blushing and the children kept busy harvesting grapes. We checked on the tree supports for our tender new plantings that had gone in during this past spring. The work felt meaningful, and on Friday night before the storm, I walked the land with our St. Bernard puppy Rose, feeling the transition of the weather as the storm winds started to pick up.

By morning, as the gale winds howled, we truly saw the scale of the devastation outside our home. As we gave thanks for the safety of our home and family, our eyes were drawn over and over to the uprooted 200-year-old linden tree, the limbs fallen from the large maple and the 50-foot fir trees, snapped in two. The Annabelle hydrangeas that cheerily engulfed the base of our front porch were barren and battered and our raspberry patch looked more like trampled sticks, denuded of all their foliage.

Returning to the Island Nature Trust office post storm, the team gathered and the shared grief over the destruction of the natural wonders of our island was couched with the deep gratitude explored by the stewardship team who so eloquently shared with us how the natural features of our island protected us and absorbed the very worst of the storm.

Now, as we get back to work and the urgent need for funding to protect our natural areas is greater than ever, we look not only towards what can be done island-wide but also in our own backyards. The incredible connectivity of nature is more apparent than ever as we steward our own choices moving on from the chaos of the storm.

I wanted to share our path forward as we start to assess the changes to our backyard ecosystem and offer some suggestions as we let nature take the lead in healing our island. With the help from our incredible ecologists here at INT, we have come up with some tangible and actionable options for caring for your own patch of PEI.

Stewardship at Home Tips:


Observe and assess; the implications from the storm and how it has impacted your local ecosystem around your home may not be apparent within even the first few weeks post-storm. Observe what has changed and take note. It may be useful to look back through old pictures or your camera roll to see how the storm has changed the landscape and what plant materials have been damaged or removed.


Choose a closed-loop system; where the space permits, keeping the storm debris and using it for composting or wood chips allows the organic materials from the trees and plants on your land to regenerate your property.


Give thought to a replanting plan; you may want to choose to plant native varieties where non-indigenous ones once stood. The resilience of these plants can be greater when faced with major storm events as they are adapted to our specific climate and conditions.


Expand the variety of plant material on your land by choosing plants that have different ecological functions. Adding plant habitats and food sources for birds, pollinators, insects and beyond will have a real impact on the island’s restoration.

So, what does that look like in our little homestead? Follow along as we endeavor to move through the four-step process above. We’ll be sharing photos, plant lists and more and welcome your questions and feedback.

We all share a unique connection to nature, and our supporters express it in diverse ways.
They are our Champions of Nature, coming from various backgrounds – from hands-on volunteers to
digital advocates, creative fundraisers, and generous donors.

Are you passionate about hands-on conservation efforts or getting directly involved in nature protection?

Are you interested in supporting nature through financial contributions or potentially donating land for long-term protection?

Are you an artisan or entrepreneur and enjoy using your creativity to raise funds for nature conservation?

Do you love using your voice to raise awareness and advocate for environmental causes in your community?

Get in touch

Connect with our team

Sign up

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Be the first to know about
future events, news and

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Private Steward Jeanne Maki

Jeanne Maki under a beautiful beech tree on her property.

Jeanne Maki is one of the private land stewards that has taken the safekeeping of PEI’s natural areas into her own hands. Jeanne protected two forested properties in 2019 under the PEI Natural Areas Protection Act, the 40.5-acre Page and Maki Natural Area in Lewes and the 50-acre Jeanne Maki Natural Area in Iona. Jeanne has been a fixture in the conservation community for many years and was the 2020 recipient of the Hon. J. Angus MacLean Natural Areas Award for her significant work in increasing and improving natural areas in PEI. Here are a few thoughtful words from Jeanne about her choice to protect her land:

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