The land trust receives a grant from Environment and Climate Change Canada

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The Thousand Islands Watershed Land Trust (TIWLT) is continuing its work to protect wildlife and address climate change in the Thousand Islands region by launching a special project. Designed to run for five years, they are working to generate $5 million to support it and provide vital conservation services to the area.

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“We’re off to a great first year,” said Calder Schweitzer, TIWLT’s executive director. “Of the $5 million we need, we have a $600,000 grant from the Nature Smart Climate Solutions Fund (NSCSF) and a half-million dollar donation from the Mabee family, buying a 169-acre property , ecologically rich.”

According to the Government of Canada website, “The NSCSF is a $631 million, 10-year fund designed to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by two to four megatonnes annually. The fund will achieve this by supporting projects that conserve, restore and enhance wetlands, peatlands and grasslands for carbon storage and sequestration. Projects will focus on conserving, restoring and improving management of important habitats for migratory birds, species at risk and other species of cultural and/or socio-economic importance to local communities.”

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TIWLT fits well within these parameters with its mission statement “to permanently protect lands in the Thousand Islands watershed region through acquisition or conservation agreements and to achieve good land stewardship through stewardship and education agreements.”

They are well on their way to achieving this goal.

“Conservation in the Thousand Islands watershed, just 20 minutes east of Kingston, is crucial to the health of the continent,” Schweitzer said. “Here, two major migration routes intersect: the north-south corridor between the Adirondack Mountains and the Canadiens Shield, and the east-west corridor connecting the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean. We have a huge amount of biodiversity, a third of all species at risk in Ontario and an ecosystem unique to the region. It is an internationally recognized ecological jewel, but that has not stopped the threats of development and land use change. That part is up to us. Healthy wildlife habitat is proving to be one of the top solutions to offset climate change. Through land donations and legal agreements, TIWLT helps willing landowners transform their rural properties into private conservation areas that last forever, as it has done for more than 6,000 acres to date.”

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Although Canada has pledged to protect 30% of its total land area by 2030, currently only 13.5% has been effectively protected. Locally, the numbers are bleaker – only 7,000 hectares of the 173,000 hectares of the work area have been protected as conservation areas, parks and conservation properties in the care of land trusts and other organisations. This is only 4 percent, a figure that needs to increase dramatically.

Land conservation and preservation help heal some of the damage already done. Forests and wetlands help reduce excess carbon dioxide, provide habitat for countless species of animals and insects, and improve life for all. Not only do wetlands provide homes for many kinds of birds, fish, turtles, frogs, beavers, muskrats, and mink (to name a few), but they also filter impurities and help heal the earth. Compared to kidneys in a healthy body, their vegetation helps remove pollutants and pathogens from water and recharge groundwater—especially essential for those living with wells as their source of drinking water. Even more amazing is their ability to capture carbon dioxide—searching for it and helping to regulate the climate.

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Forests provide a habitat for approximately 80% of the earth’s wildlife. In addition, they are massive carbon sinks and help regulate precipitation. They are considered to be one of the most effective nature-based solutions to climate change.

Wetlands and forests can overlap, becoming forested wetlands that take on the attributes of both categories. This is only a small part of the reasoning behind earth conservation and progress with movements like TIWLT.

“TIWLT conserves more land in the Thousand Islands watershed than any other charity, despite having one of the smallest budgets,” Schweitzer said. “Our local focus keeps us in tune with our community’s needs and results in a focused conservation program that we have been implementing for nearly 30 years. With more projects coming to our door than ever before, TIWLT needs your help. Over the next five years, we’re raising $5 million to support these projects. Of these, we have already raised (more than half a million dollars) and received a grant of $600,000. We need your support to keep this momentum going so that the natural spaces that are vital to our health and well-being can be preserved forever.

“The Trust began this major fundraising campaign with $50,000 in matching funds,” Schweitzer said. “Your donation and impact will be doubled when you donate to TIWLT.”

To learn more about the project and how you can contribute, visit or contact Schweitzer at [email protected]

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