Government grant, donation matching will help local land trust fight climate change

The newly protected 169-acre property contains 65 acres of wetlands nestled among ridge-and-valley topography characteristic of the region. Photo via TIWLT.

The Thousand Islands Watershed Land Trust (TIWLT) has begun a 5-year, $5 million project to take on climate change and protect wildlife and the vital services of nature in the Thousand Islands region.

The local land trust said that they are one of 10 groups in the province to receive an Environment and Climate Change grant of up to $600,000 for conservation work. While they were aware they were receiving the grant earlier this year, the organization had work to do to ensure receipt of the grant and devise plans for its use.

“We’re off to a great start for year one,” said Calder Schweitzer, the trust’s Executive Director. “Of the $5 million we need, we have a $600,000 grant from Nature Smart Climate Solutions Fund and a half-million dollar donation from [an anonymous] family, buying a 169-acre, ecologically rich property. On top of that, a major fundraising campaign to support the Trust has kicked off with $50,000 in donation matching funds. Your donation and impact will be doubled when donating to the Thousand Islands Watershed Land Trust.”

According to a release from TIWLT, conservation in the watershed, just 20 minutes east of Kingston, is crucial to the health of the continent. Here, two major migration pathways cross: the north-south corridor between the Adirondack Mountains and Canadian Shield, and the east-west corridor linking the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean.

The Thousand Islands Region is at the crossing of two major migration routes, often called the “Crossroads of the Continent”. Image via TIWLT.

“We have an immense amount of biodiversity, a third of all species at risk in Ontario, and an ecosystem unique to the region,” the organization stated. “It’s an internationally recognized ecological gem, but that hasn’t stopped threats from development and land use change. That part is up to us. Healthy habitat for wildlife turns out to be one of the top solutions to offset climate change. Through land donations and legal agreements, TIWLT helps willing landowners turn their rural property into privately held protected areas that last forever, as it has done for over 6,000 acres to date.”

According to the release, these protected lands are more resilient to the effects of climate change, offering many free ecological services. This includes storing carbon, providing refuge & migration routes for wildlife, filtering our air & water, and mitigating the effects of flooding. With support, the organization can increase the amount of protected land in this critically important region, while planning for a more resilient future.

The Thousand Islands Watershed Land Trust is a small charitable, non-profit organization made up of dedicated directors and staff concerned with the protection of ecologically important land. TIWLT’s mission is “To permanently protect land in the Thousand Islands Watershed region through acquisition or conservation agreements, and to achieve good land management through stewardship agreements and education.”

Visit tiwlt.ca to learn more about ways the local land trust is supporting the conservation and protection of nature, and how to get involved in its mission.

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