A Year in Review: How we advanced environmental conservation in the Ottawa Valley together and what’s to come
Our community continued to meet unique challenges throughout 2021.
Despite this, we advanced conservation for Ottawa Valley’s public lands and waters together.
From our entire team, thank you for your support and helping make our mission a reality.
What did we achieve together in 2021?
We made significant progress toward a new protected area over 1,150 km² of the Noire and Coulonge River watersheds alongside our partner, CREDDO. We also launched a project with them to protect wood turtle habitat in Quebec (and we’ll have a CPAWS Café in January diving into this topic, so stay tuned).
We also supported efforts of conservation groups and local municipalities to create a new protected area in the Papineau RCM, Réserve de biodiversité projetée Mashkiki, adding 30 km² to Quebec’s protected area network.
Thanks to new partners of our Three Rivers Fund, we restored a historic wagon road into a hiking trail along the Dumoine River for community members to enjoy.
And just a couple months ago, we all gave Thanks to Nature by raising over $7,000 to protect our wild spaces and the species calling them home.
Part of our work to conserve Ottawa Valley’s natural environment happens behind the scenes.
This year, we joined Yours to Protect, a coalition supporting clean water, farmland, biodiversity, and healthy communities in Ontario.
We also provided recommendations to various levels of government about protecting our environment for future generations. We provided recommendations to the Province of Ontario for its 2021-2023 Algonquin Park Forest Management Plan, as well as recommendations to the Board of the National Capital Commission for the new Gatineau Park Master Plan.
Together with Wildlands League and other conservation groups, we gathered over 50 speakers for the People’s Summit. This event showcased efforts to protect special places across Ontario.
We also welcomed 10 new Canadian Wilderness Stewardship Program (CWSP) participants in September with a wilderness trip to the Noire River (with community conservation projects already underway, so stay tuned for updates).
During these challenging times, we recognize the importance of connecting to natural spaces as a way to de-stress and unplug. This is why we hosted our 5th Annual Dumoine River Art Wilderness (DRAW) Retreat, following pandemic safety protocols. We welcomed 15 new and returning participants for the week-long trip where local artists, from poets to photographers to painters and more, to connect with Ottawa Valley’s wild spaces and create art about what they see, hear, and feel.
What are our goals for 2022?
This is the year for Gatineau Park! With a federal election in the fall of 2020, supportive MPs, new mayors in Chelsea, Pontiac, and Gatineau, and a new director at the helm of the park, we are confident this is the year to move forward on legislation and other conservation measures, including ecological corridors, to protect Gatineau Park’s rich natural heritage and make it “a real park.”
In 2022, we will be launching a campaign to secure protection for a greater proportion of Ontario’s Madawaska Highlands. This is an area of lakes, rivers, forests and wetlands rich in biodiversity, but under protected.
We will also continue our work to secure a large, protected area in the Noire and Coulonge watersheds. We value local community and Indigenous peoples’ input, so community consultations are being planned for early in the new year.
Did you know only a few kilometres separate the protected areas of Algonquin Park in Ontario and Quebec’s Dumoine River? In 2022, we aim to fill the gap between our region’s two largest protected areas to secure a continentally significant connection between the forests of the south and the Boreal Forest to the north. This would create an essential migration route for species in the era of climate change.
We will also hold the Government of Quebec to its promise of establishing protected areas in southern Quebec. We will encourage both Quebec and Ontario to adopt ambitious post-2020 conservation targets of at least 25% by 2025 and 30% by 2030.
The Greenbelt, like Gatineau Park, is a defining element of our region. It is under constant threat from new roads and urban encroachment. We will continue to advocate for increased protection for the Greenbelt and work to prevent projects like Brian Coburn Boulevard from being realized.
We couldn’t do this without our community. That’s why we’re going to continue connecting you to nature to say thank you, especially to our community’s youth, through programs like CWSP and our other education efforts.