NCC secures protection of 73-hectare Moira River Karst Nature Reserve

Moira River, ON. Photo by Chelsea Marcantonio

The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) has secured the protection of a 73-hectare property along the Moira River north of Belleville, featuring old growth forest, karst, and wetland habitats.

This acquisition fulfills a vision more than 15 years in the making, initiated by the late Clifford and Heather Maclean of Hastings County, who first approached NCC in 2008 with their conservation dream. Through the collaboration of the Maclean family and support from numerous donors and partners, NCC will now manage and preserve this ecologically significant property.

“Besides being an ecological gem, this property has meant a lot to the family as a place for long walks and peaceful reflection and for helping with personal health and wellbeing,” stated Mark Stabb, Program Director – Central Ontario East, Ontario Region, Nature Conservancy of Canada. “We look forward to caring for this special place and to finding ways to share its magic with others.”

The newly established Moira River Karst nature reserve includes diverse forest ecosystems, such as mixed and old-growth forests, which serve as carbon sinks and habitats for threatened bird species like the wood thrush. The fields and meadows support at-risk grassland birds, including the threatened bobolink and eastern meadowlark. The property’s wetlands, meadows, and karst habitats contribute to a rich biodiversity, filtering and cleaning water that flows into the Moira River and downstream to communities like Belleville. This ecological diversity and the ecosystem services it provides, such as carbon absorption and water purification, highlight the importance of the Napanee Plain natural area for conservation.

NCC’s efforts to secure the long-term vision of the Maclean family were supported by private donors, foundations, the Government of Canada through the Nature Smart Climate Solutions Fund, and the Government of Ontario through the Greenlands Conservation Partnership program.

In the past two years alone, NCC has influenced the protection of more than 1 million hectares (almost twice the size of Prince Edward Island), coast to coast to coast. Over the next few years, the organization will double its impact by mobilizing Canadians and delivering permanent, large-scale conservation. 

“Our government is supporting the Nature Conservancy of Canada’s conservation work to help fight climate change by protecting old-growth forest, wetlands and karst along the Moira River near Belleville,” said Minister of Environment and Climate Change Steven Guilbeault. “These natural wonders are carbon storehouses and biodiversity hot spots that offer a home to several species at risk. With each investment in the Nature Smart Climate Solutions Fund, we continue to build a more sustainable, healthy future for ourselves, our children and our grandchildren.” 

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