This post was provided by Tanya Clark, Development Coordinator at The Couchiching Conservancy, as part of our environment series.
Take a deep breath in, then exhale. Picture your favourite well-loved forest, or lake, or view of the vast Canadian Shield. Keep breathing. Inhale, then exhale.
Now think about how you would feel if this place was gone forever. Erased. Trees chopped down, waterways chocked full of dirt and grime, smog infiltrating our bodies.
Not a pretty future, right?
The health of our favourite natural landscapes is critical to the health of our communities. Sometimes these forests and wetlands, however, are taken for granted until it’s too late. It’s almost like breathing – it’s so second nature, we don’t think about how important it is until it’s gone.
That’s where The Couchiching Conservancy comes in. We are dedicated to protecting nature for current and future generations. We are a non-profit, non-government land trust supported by individuals who want to ensure natural places are safeguarded for future generations. Formed in 1993 by a small group of concerned citizens, we now help to protect over 12,000 acres of vital natural lands – and in some cases, globally rare ecosystems.
The Couchiching Conservancy protects ecologically significant land in the greater Orillia region through direct ownership, conservation easement agreements with private landowners, or partnerships with other organizations such as The Nature Conservancy of Canada. Many of these properties were donated by caring people who simply want to leave a living legacy lasting far beyond their years.
Once the Conservancy acquires a new property, the property remains in the private ownership of the Conservancy rather than functioning as public parkland. While these land trusts acquire and retain important properties for public benefit, if a choice has to be made, priority is given to preservation over public access in an effort to preserve the estate for future generations.
The Conservancy also promotes good stewardship with private landowners and other partners. Couchiching is not part of government but works with all levels of government and government agencies.
So what exactly do we do once we acquire land?
Ongoing care and stewardship is vital to managing all of our properties. Our volunteers and staff are the eyes and ears on the ground year-round and are responsible for property management and assessing invasive or species at risk in addition to other vital tasks related to property care.
Aside from caring for our properties, The Conservancy also strives to promote good stewardship with private landowners and other community partners. Couchiching is not a government organization, but we work with all levels of government and agencies to preserve and protect our natural land – a mandate will continue to work for in years to come.
For over 20 years, The Couchiching Conservancy has achieved countless successes, and we can only imagine what we will be able to achieve in the future. With your support, we are:
Working to preserve critical habitat. The Couchiching Conservancy has already helped protect over 12,000 acres of important habitat, including globally rare ecosystems.
Protecting and sustaining species at risk. Our recovery projects in the Carden Alvar alone have helped sustain 17 crucial species, including important wildlife such as the Blanding’s Turtle, Bobolinks, Meadowlarks, Monarch butterflies and Yellow Rails.
Leveraging scarce resources for effective conservation. We efficiently leverage our in-house resources through partnerships and extensive volunteer support. We spend 83 percent of our revenue on property acquisitions, land stewardship and programs.
Planning for Our Future
At the Couchiching Conservancy, we have big objectives we hope to accomplish over the next five years. The Conservancy aims to bring 2,500 additional acres under protection; a large portion of that targeted land lays on the Carden Plain where we are already working in partnership with others to bring a total of 12,000 acres of important habitat under protection.
We are also on the cutting edge of a new provincial program which requires developers to replace destroyed habitat affecting specific species. We hope to capitalize on the program to bring hundreds of additional acres under permanent protection, and with continued support from our members, friends, businesses and foundations, The Couchiching Conservancy will continue to grow and thrive as we preserve our precious environment for generations to come.