Batchewana Island, a ‘Disneyland’ for nature lovers, now permanently protected
‘When nature thrives, we all thrive’: Originally announced earlier this year, island north of the Sault now officially protected after conservancy group raises necessary funds
A prominent Canadian conservation group has raised enough money to permanently protect Batchewana Island, one of the largest privately owned islands in Lake Superior.
Earlier this year, The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) announced a $7.2-million deal to purchase the island, located 45 kilometres north of the Sault. But the organization needed to raise an additional $1.2-million to ensure it remains a permanent haven for wildlife, birds and fish.
“Thanks an ambitious campaign” and the “steadfast support of many community partners, donors and foundations,” the NCC has reached that goal.
Below is the full press release announcing the news:
Sault Ste. Marie, ON (November 16, 2023) – The largest remaining privately owned island in Lake Superior is now permanently protected, marking a significant win for nature in Ontario. Thanks to an ambitious campaign by the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) and the steadfast support of many community partners, donors and foundations, the 2,076-hectare Batchewana Island will now remain a permanent haven for wildlife, birds and fish.
Batchewana Island is located in the Lake Superior natural area. Lake Superior is unique among the world’s freshwater lakes; situated at the top of the Great Lakes, it is the world’s largest freshwater lake by area. Batchewana Island’s incredible beauty and its proximity to Sault Ste. Marie means the island has faced increasing development pressures in recent years. However, a strong group of community supporters and conservation partners stepped up efforts to ensure its protection. Local people mobilized to help NCC secure the property by donating toward the island’s protection, and they are now partnering with the organization to care for the island and its species. Nature enthusiasts are eagerly completing species inventories for NCC, contributing to the organization’s knowledge of biodiversity on the island. NCC sincerely thanks the community for helping protect and care for Batchewana Island.
Batchewana Island is part of the traditional territory of Batchewana First Nation and is located north of Sault Ste. Marie in Batchawana Bay. The island boasts 27 kilometres of undeveloped shoreline as well as intact forests and wetlands. These forests and wetlands are a prime location for more than 75 bird species, 30 of which are provincially significant and four are species at risk, such as rusty blackbird (special concern), bald eagle (special concern) and Canada warbler (special concern). The island is also home to several wide-ranging mammals such as black bear, Canada lynx, gray wolf and moose. The waters of the surrounding bay provide important habitat for freshwater fish, such as at-risk lake sturgeon. The island’s forests and wetlands absorb carbon, helping to lessen the impacts of climate change.
This project was made possible with the support of many private donors and foundations. Contributions were also made by the Government of Canada, through the Nature Smart Climate Solutions Fund, and the Government of Ontario, through the Greenlands Conservation Partnership program.
This project showcases how NCC is accelerating the pace of conservation in Canada. In the past two years alone, NCC has influenced the protection of more than one million hectares (almost twice the size of Prince Edward Island), coast to coast to coast. Over the next few years, the organization will double its impact by mobilizing people and delivering permanent, large-scale conservation.
In the face of rapid biodiversity loss and climate change, nature is our ally. There is no solution to either without nature conservation. When nature thrives, we all thrive.
“We are proud to support the Nature Conservancy of Canada’s work to protect this jewel in Lake Superior through the Nature Smart Climate Solutions Fund. Ecosystems such as Batchewana Island’s old-growth and wetland forests act not only as important carbon sinks, but also provide critical habitat for several species at risk and nature at large. By making investments such as this, we are making progress toward Canada’s 2030 and 2050 climate change objectives and benefitting biodiversity.” – The Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Environment and Climate Change
“Batchewana Island is a prime example of the enduring beauty of our province’s green spaces, and its permanent protection is a triumph for the Nature Conservancy of Canada, community partners, and the people of Ontario. I am grateful that Ontario has contributed towards this project thanks to our Greenlands Conservation Partnership program. Together we are protecting wildlife and biodiversity now and for the future.” – Andrea Khanjin, Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks
“Batchewana Island is truly an amazing place. I have been quoted calling it “Disneyland” for those who love nature, and that could not be truer. From the tiny sparkling sundews on the hummocks in the cedar wetlands, to the otter and lynx tracks on the sandy beaches, everything we see on Batchewana Island is breathtaking. I am so happy to have been part of the team that worked so hard to protect it, alongside our incredible community partners.” – Kaitlin Richardson, Program Director – Northern Ontario, Nature Conservancy of Canada
· Conserving Batchewana Island protects its fragile old-growth and wetland forest ecosystems. The island is mainly forested, with a mix of maple-, birch- and cedar-dominated canopies, below which over 350 species of plants thrive. Endangered black ash trees also prevail in the wet soils and swamps of the island’s eastern shoreline.
· The protection of Batchewana Island increases the total hectares of NCC-protected area in the Lake Superior natural area to 9,104.
· In addition to providing habitat for several important species, Batchewana Island is a carbon sink; the carbon stored here is equivalent to the energy used by over 500,000 homes each year.
is the country’s unifying force for nature. NCC seeks solutions to the twin crises of rapid biodiversity loss and climate change through large-scale, permanent land conservation. As a trusted partner, NCC works with people, communities, businesses and government to protect and care for our country’s most important natural areas. Since 1962, NCC has brought people together to conserve and restore more than 15 million hectares. To learn more, visit .
Canada’s Nature Smart Climate Solutions Fund (NSCSF) is a $1.4 billion, ten-year fund (2021–2031) administered by Environment and Climate Change Canada to help conserve, restore, and enhance the management of ecosystems such as wetlands, forests, and grasslands, in order to help tackle the dual crises of climate change and biodiversity loss. The NSCSF will focus on three main objectives: (1) conserving carbon-rich ecosystems at high risk of conversion to other uses that would release their stored carbon; (2) improving land management practices to reduce their greenhouse gas emission-causing impacts on Canada’s ecosystems; and (3) restoring degraded ecosystems. Overall, these projects will contribute to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and increased carbon sequestration, while also providing benefits for biodiversity and human well-being.
The Greenlands Conservation Partnership helps conserve ecologically important natural areas and protect wetlands, grasslands and forests that help mitigate the effects of climate change. Through the Greenlands Conservation Partnership, a total of $38 million has been invested to date by the Ontario Government. Additional match funds are raised from other sources, such as individual donations and foundation support through NCC and the Ontario Land Trust Alliance, and other levels of government.