New group seeks greater protection for county’s south shore

The encircled area denotes the boundary of the south shore Important Bird Area. (Submitted photo)

Councillors will hear more about a joint project to protect Prince Edward County’s south shore on Thursday.

John Hirsch and Cheryl Anderson will address councillors Thursday at Shire Hall to speak about the South Shore Joint Initiative (SSJI) and its goals.

The members of the new organization come from the Prince Edward County Field Naturalists (PECFN), the Prince Edward Point Bird Observatory (PEPtBO) and the County Coalition for Safe and Appropriate Green Energy (CCSAGE) Naturally Green.

The SSJI seeks to protect the south shore’s marine and terrestrial ecosystems and overall biodiversity. The SSJI’s executive summary says a protected area and public use status — including conservation parks, migratory bird sanctuaries, provincial or national wildlife areas as appropriate, and a national marine conservation area — is sought for the south shore and surrounding waters of Prince Edward County. The south shore is a recognized globally significant Important Bird Area (IBA) and covers 26 square kilometres of land and 65 square kilometres of nearshore water. It contains three areas of public land — the Point Petre Provincial Wildlife Area, the Ostrander Point Crown Land Block, and the Prince Edward Point National Wildlife Area. It also includes Little Bluff Conservation Area and the Miller Family Nature Reserve.

Under a United Nations agreement, the federal government has committed to protecting 17 per cent of its land and inland waters as well as 10 per cent of its oceans by 2020. The deputation to be presented Thursday says protecting the public areas of the county’s south shore from development would help reach that target.

It says southern Ontario has experienced some of the greatest loss of biodiversity in the country and conservation opportunities are limited. Designating the south shore public areas as conservation areas would enable existing wildlife policies and legislation to be addressed, would create opportunities for natural education and engagement with nature, and could potentially contribute to the local economy through eco-tourism.

Committee of the whole meets Thursday at 1 p.m.