Island Nature Trust Natural Areas
Search for a specific Natural Area in the top right corner of the map or scroll within the map to zoom into a highlighted area representing the boundaries of each property.
Click on the boundary and press the ‘Zoom to’ button for a magnified perspective of the Natural Area.
Detailed descriptions and volunteer opportunities for each Natural Area are linked within the description popup.
With almost 90% of Prince Edward Island in private ownership, there are significant challenges associated with protecting land over multiple generations and changing economies. While taxpayer-funded securement of natural spaces in public parks and forests is a crucial means of retaining biodiversity, the participation of private land trusts and individuals is also integral to the long-term protection of natural landscapes on the Island.
Island Nature Trust is the Island’s longest-serving private land trust, established in 1979 to protect and conserve natural areas in PEI. We:
- Acquire ecologically sensitive land through donation, bequest or purchase
- Manage our properties to retain and restore their ecological integrity
- Assist private landowners to manage and protect their own properties
We are independent, dedicated, provincial in scope and fuelled by the passion of Islanders for their beautiful island landscape.
Prince Edward Island has set a target for natural areas protection of 10% of the land and be the first province in Canada to reach net zero. We are just over halfway to that target and much work remains to be done!
A network of natural spaces connected by wildlife corridors will include important habitats like:
- Upland hardwood forest, the traditional Maritime Acadian or Wapan’ekati forest
- Bogs, fens and cedar swamps
- Coldwater streams
- Beach barrier or barrachois ponds
- Salt and freshwater marshes
- Coastal cliffs, dunes and beaches
- Nearshore islands
Together with the Province, Mi’kmaq, other conservation groups, and our dedicated volunteer Conservation Guardians, we can leave a legacy of healthy protected areas for future generations of Islanders.
Protecting Your Own Land
The practice of identifying ecologically sensitive lands and protecting them from highly impactful human activities is ageless. In Prince Edward Island, Islanders began asking for a legislative mechanism to protect private land in the 1970’s. In a province where 87 % of the land mass is in private ownership, the pressures from development are felt deeply. With a strong tradition of retaining land within the same family, that pressure is felt particularly when one generation ages and the next generation doesn’t want or can’t maintain the natural landscape of a family property.
In 1988, years of advocacy, discussion and planning resulted in the creation of the PEI Natural Areas Protection Act (NAPA). This provincial piece of legislation allows government, private land trusts and private individuals to protect land in perpetuity. That protection is provided through a restrictive covenant and management plan that is placed on the deed and follows with it, even when there are changes in land ownership. Similar to conservation easements in other provinces, NAPA protection provides a landowner with comfort that their beloved slice of Island heaven will endure in its natural state, experiencing change on natural and geological time scales instead of accelerated human ones. In recognition of the immense ecological services that undeveloped land provides to all Islanders through contributions to clean air, rivers and groundwater, NAPA protected land is exempt from provincial property taxes.
If your land contains an area of healthy natural woodland, wetland or coastline and you would like to see those habitats protected beyond your lifetime, we can help you through the process of legal protection. You can retain ownership of the land and still place this restrictive covenant and vision for management in place. Our resource guide “Protecting Natural Places in Prince Edward Island”’ provides more detail on this option and is available here or in paper copy at our office in Ravenwood. Island Nature Trust Executive Director, Megan Harris, is also happy to meet with you to work through the possibilities for your land on a timeline that suits you.
Donating or Selling Land to Us
Islanders feel strong ties to their red earth and recognize what a special mix of landscapes exists in PEI. For many reasons, an individual or family may not be willing or able to retain ownership, but still want to see the land remain in its natural state. Island Nature Trust supports a number of mechanisms for acquiring ecologically sensitive land that accommodates the varying needs and circumstances of Island landowners.
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. The process of donating land will involve a number of steps, including visiting the land to assess its natural state, navigating through an internal process of considering the ecological sensitivity and stewardship needs of the property, and undertaking an appraisal as well as sometimes survey, subdivision or establishment of a legal right-of-way. Please get in touch with us and we will be happy to discuss this option in more detail!
If you wish to leave a land bequest to Island Nature Trust in your will, please let us know sooner rather than later. Having advance knowledge allows us to assess the land and ensure we can take on its management needs in perpetuity. It also provides you with the opportunity to communicate your vision for the land so that we can honour your gift by staying true to your vision. Island Nature Trust can provide a template of wording for a will that your lawyer might find helpful.
As a registered charity, Island Nature Trust can issue a charitable tax receipt for the appraised fair market value of donated land. In Canada, gifts of land are still subject to capital gains tax, but an exemption may be possible through the federal Ecological Gifts program. Tax receipts may be applied to personal income tax returns in one year or over as many as ten years. We can help donors through these steps but the advice and assistance of independent accountants and lawyers is also a must. If you are considering a donation of land and are an American taxpayer, we may be able to provide some tax incentives through our partnership with American Friends of Canadian Conservation. Please contact us for further details.
Your circumstances may not allow for a donation of land and in that instance, Island Nature Trust may consider a purchase or a split – receipt. A split – receipt amounts to a bargain basement sale of land, where a portion of its fair market value is donated, in return for a charitable tax receipt. The Canada Revenue Agency will allow a donation of 20% or more of the fair market value. The remainder portion would be the purchase price.
Our resource guide “Protecting Natural Places in Prince Edward Island” provides more detail on donating or selling ecologically sensitive land and is available here or in paper copy at our offices in Ravenwood. Island Nature Trust Executive Director, Megan Harris, is also happy to meet with you to work through the possibilities on a timeline that suits you.
Megan Harris is Island Nature Trust’s Director of Conservation. If you are interested in donating or selling land and want to learn more about your options, contact Megan at;
Stewarding land responsibly in the context of protection forever is a significant undertaking. It lies at the heart of Island Nature Trust’s mandate for land conservation. With over 6,000 acres of land in 61 natural areas across PEI, we cannot work to retain and restore ecological integrity on these lands without the significant support of Islanders.
In the short-term, managing lands is a supreme collaborative effort between our dedicated volunteer Conservation Guardians and staff. Over the long-term, Island Nature Trust maintains investments in a Stewardship Fund to support the ongoing maintenance costs associated with land conservation.
Most lands in PEI have been impacted by past land use. With European settlement came land conversion from forest to agriculture, and what was once 98% forest cover fell to 30% impacted forest by 1900. Even lands that have never seen a plow were likely at some time influenced by cutting or, along rivers and estuaries, damming for millworks or farming.
Natural areas maintained by Island Nature Trust have varying needs, including forest diversification through planting of native trees and shrubs missing from the mix, control of invasive species, cleanup of garbage from beaches, wetlands and forest, trail maintenance, and monitoring and enhancement for wildlife use.
We cannot thank our 51 Conservation Guardians enough for their help in stewarding these special natural spaces. A few perks we offer our volunteers include training in skills like bird identification, volunteer t-shirts, and participation in member-only events. There are still over twenty natural areas that don’t enjoy the added benefits of volunteer guardianship. If you are interested in becoming involved, please contact us through the form below.
Program Coordinator Amy Frost-Wicks is responsible for training events that typically happen during the summer months when we can gather outside. Conservation Guardian volunteers are asked to commit to monitoring their natural area at least once per year but are encouraged to visit as often as they wish. Want to learn more about our Conservation Guardian volunteer program? Contact Amy at firstname.lastname@example.org or click the button below.