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Protected and Connected

The Role of Conservation Land Trusts in a Landscape of Development

The Pender Islands Conservancy was established as a Land Trust 31 years ago in response to increasing human development and associated loss of ecosystems in our community. Across Canada, Land Trusts exist to protect private land in perpetuity through donation, acquisition or conservation agreements. Our founders enshrined in the Pender Islands Conservancy’s Constitution the mandate to “preserve and protect lands of significant importance in maintaining the natural environment”, and to “do everything incidental and necessary to attain the foregoing purpose, including obtaining funds and acquiring by purchase, donation, or otherwise, land and personal property.”

Development pressure continues to accelerate across the Southern Gulf Islands, putting watersheds, mature forests and wildlife habitat further at risk of loss and fragmentation. The urgency to secure contiguous tracts of high-quality habitat has never been greater. The Pender Conservancy is responding to this urgency: By working with land holders to protect private lands through conservation covenants, by advocating for local governments to enhance protections and parklands, and through land acquisitions for permanent protection in Conservancy-owned or co-owned Nature Reserves. We prioritize securing lands that are connected to existing protected areas to further maximize wildlife habitat value and ecological resilience.

Photo by Alex Harris

So what is a Nature Reserve? True to our Constitution as a Conservation Land Trust, the Conservancy’s Nature Reserves are established, first and foremost, to protect natural environments. This means giving native plants and animals space to live, reproduce, disperse, establish territories, choose mates, find food, and attract pollinators. For many species, these basic requirements are only possible in healthy, intact environments free from stressors like dogs and humans and thousands of trampling feet. Our members, supporters and donors have entrusted us to protect ecosystems, watersheds and wildlife habitat, and this necessarily means that public access must be restricted in our Nature Reserves.

Photo by Sarah DeVries

We value the opportunity for folks in our community to have access to public lands for recreational purposes, as these experiences enhance our community's appreciation for natural environments, ecosystems and wildlife. This appreciation often translates into more responsible interactions with land and the species we share our environment with. To that end, our ongoing collaboration with CRD Community Parks promoting ecological restoration and interpretive walks allows us to get out on the land with our community to collectively learn about and appreciate the natural world. However, we promise to uphold our Constitution and the expectations of our members, supporters and donors by always ensuring our Nature Reserve lands are managed for wildlife habitat over human access.

Photo by Alex Harris

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