• Protecting Water and Farmland in Simcoe County

Conservation groups looking to purchase the heart of Carden Alvar

In AWARE News Network
Oct 13th, 2020
Prairie Smoke

Prairie Smoke in the Cedarhurst Alvar – William McIntyre photo

New conservation area worth $10 million dollars a year in ecosystem goods and services

News release from Nature Conservancy of Canada

The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) and the Couchiching Conservancy have partnered in their efforts to protect a key piece of the globally important Carden Alvar. The 551-hectare (1,362-acre) Cedarhurst Alvar property at the heart of the Carden Alvar, located 35 kilometres northeast of Orillia, contains some of the most significant natural habitat in the province.

Alvars, naturally open habitats with either a thin covering of soil, or no soil, over a base of limestone or dolostone bedrock, are extremely rare. They only exist in a handful of locations across the globe, including the eastern European Baltic region, the United Kingdom and Ireland. In North America, almost 75 per cent of alvars are in Ontario.

If protected, this new conservation reserve will provide Ontarians with $10 million dollars a year in ecosystem goods and services, including carbon storage, the removal of air pollution and flood water storage. The property’s diverse habitats, including forests, wetlands and grasslands, act as sponges during spring run-off and during major storms. By storing carbon and buffering local communities from the impacts of increasing severe weather events, the property provides an excellent example of the nature-based solutions needed to help combat climate change.

NCC and the Couchiching Conservancy need to raise $1 million dollars by spring 2021 in order to protect the Cedarhurst Alvar property for the long term. In the past, the Carden Alvar, and this property in particular, has faced development pressure. If the conservation groups cannot raise the money in time, this important natural area could be developed.

Home to a large number and diversity of grassland birds, including grasshopper sparrow, bobolink, eastern meadowlark and upland sandpiper, the Cedarhurst Alvar property represents a large gap in Carden’s network of conservation lands. Once protected, it will help form a conservation corridor between Carden Alvar Provincial Park to the south and NCC- and partner-conserved lands extending north to Queen Elizabeth II Wildlands Provincial Park.

For more information and to donate, visit natureconservancy.ca/cedarhurst.


“Every block of land in Carden Alvar is special in its own way, but it’s the numbers that tell the story at Cedarhurst Alvar. It’s a staggering 551 hectares (1,362 acres) of land. It’s providing $10 million dollars a year in services like cleaning drinking water, purifying air and storing carbon. There are hundreds of species using its wetlands, forests, grasslands and globally rare alvars. Doing conservation at this size and scale is incredibly important in today’s changing world.” – Kristyn Ferguson, program director, large landscapes Ontario Region, Nature Conservancy of Canada

“The Couchiching Conservancy is very pleased to be working with The Nature Conservancy of Canada to bring permanent protection to the heartland of the alvars in Carden. We are working very hard with our partners to create wildlife corridors throughout the Lake Couchiching region to build natural resiliency in the face of a changing climate. This property is an essential piece of that puzzle.” – Mark Bisset, Executive Director, Couchiching Conservancy

The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) is the nation’s leading not-for-profit, private land conservation organization, working to protect our most important natural areas and the species they sustain. Since 1962, NCC and its partners have helped to protect 14 million hectares (35 million acres), coast to coast to coast, with more than 84,000 hectares (207,000 acres) in Ontario. To learn more, visit natureconservancy.ca.

The Couchiching Conservancy is a non-profit, non-government land trust powered by a community of people, businesses and foundations dedicated to protecting nature for future generations. You can take action for nature by becoming a member, volunteering or donating to power local efforts to safeguard wilderness in our region. To learn more, please visit www.couchichingconserv.ca.

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