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Environment

Spotlight on conservation: Hastings Wildlife Junction, Ont.

Hastings Wildlife Junction in eastern Ontario is an example of the scale of conservation needed in Canada

  • Dec 09, 2022
  • 416 words
  • 2 minutes
Hastings Wildlife Junction is critical habitat for a wide range of species, including seven of the eight turtle species considered at risk in Ontario. (Photo courtesy Nature Conservancy of Canada)
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Nature needs space to thrive. The more nature we can conserve, the better our chances at keeping the effects of climate change and biodiversity loss in check. That’s no easy feat in southern Ontario, Canada’s most densely populated region, but Hastings Wildlife Junction, a project of the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC), is proof that it is possible.

Located south of Bancroft, Ontario, at the intersection of two major wildlife corridors — Algonquin to Adirondacks and The Land Between — Hastings Wildlife Junction comprises some 4,800 hectares of forest, wetlands and rivers. It is critical habitat for a wide range of species, including seven of the eight turtle species considered at risk in Ontario, as well as numerous snakes, birds, black bear, pine marten, moose, eastern wolf and elk. And, remarkably for the region, it has about 98 per cent natural land cover. 

Hastings Wildlife Junction has about 98 per cent natural land cover, providing important habitat connectivity. (Photo courtesy Nature Conservancy of Canada)
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“In the context of southern Ontario, [land cover of this extent] is really hard to find,” says Luke Ridgway, large landscapes program coordinator with NCC. “Especially on the scale that we’re operating.”

Once used for logging and mining, Hastings Wildlife Junction was acquired thanks to a collaboration between NCC, Kruger Products and other donors. The end of logging operations on the property removed one of the biggest pressures on wildlife in the area, notes Ridgway. NCC hopes to acquire another 3,200 hectares in the area in early 2023. 

Founded in 1962, NCC has protected over 15 million hectares of land across Canada. As a corporate partner, Kruger Products shares a similar mission to conserve wildlife and natural areas for future generations. “Partners like Kruger are really essential in helping us acquire land and, importantly, managing the land moving forward,” says Ridgway. “It’s one thing to actually purchase the land; it’s another to manage it in perpetuity.”

Although all land acquired by NCC is private, Ridgway says some sections of the Hastings Wildlife Junction property will be open to the public for low-impact recreational use. NCC is looking at developing trails that are accessible by existing logging roads.

As Canada continues to work toward its goal of protecting 30 per cent of its lands and waters by 2030, Ridgway sees a role for organizations like NCC to continue private land acquisitions but also to promote large-scale conservation that will make a meaningful impact. 

“For us, Hastings Wildlife Junction is a major step forward, and we’re looking at other large landscape opportunities as well, to carry this approach forward,” he says.

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