New 136 hectare donation is largest ever for Island Nature Trust

The Island Nature Trust has secured its largest land acquisition to date, and it was done by donation.

New natural area to be named for donors

The forest parts of the natural area are home to mixed Acadian forest, with both soft and hardwood trees. (Nicola MacLeod/CBC)

The Island Nature Trust has secured its largest land acquisition to date, and it was done through a donation.

The 136 hectare — or 337 acre — parcel was donated by Carl Hansen and Dan MacIsaac, who bought the land more than 20 years ago. The land is in Forest Hill, P.E.I., south of St. Peters Bay and connects to the St. Peters River.

"We just felt it was the thing to do, we weren't doing anything with it. It's there, it's a large parcel of land," said Hansen.

"Our Island is getting used up agriculturally and this land here, now we know that nothing will ever happen to it. It will be just as it is now."

'Very valuable for wildlife'

The Hansen-MacIsaac natural area has mixed forest with hard and softwood trees. 

It also is home to peatlands, a type of wetland ecosystem. Island Nature Trust plans to continue to use the peatlands for carbon sequestration.

"It takes thousands and thousands of years to create that peatland, those are carbon sinks. That's what we need right now, to ensure that carbon doesn't escape into the atmosphere and contribute to climate change," said Megan Harris, director of conservation with Island Nature Trust.

"With the forest, we may consider doing a little bit of diversification back to a more natural Acadian mix that will do well with climate change as well."

Carl Hansen, left, and Dan MacIsaac purchased the parcel of land 20 years ago and donated it to the Island Nature Trust as a ecological gift. (Ben Russell/Island Nature Trust)

The trust notes that an added value of the new protected area is its proximity to other protected lands, like Greenwich in the P.E.I. National Park as well as the Forest Hill Nature Area and River Wetlands Wildlife Management Area, both managed by the province.

"It's not much of value for agricultural land, but very valuable for wildlife. All types of wildlife are there. There's marshland, Acadian forests, spruce trees, hardwood trees, some trails to the property," Hansen said.

"We couldn't have ended up donating to anything better than the Island Nature Trust."

The trust will expand the current trail running through the site for horseback riding and walking, where it will be accessible to the public.

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