Celebrating the 800th Ecological Gift Donation
Across the vast and diverse Canadian landscape, we have another reason to celebrate -- the donation of the 800th Ecological Gift since the program's inception in 1995 was recently announced.
A significant amount of wildlife habitat is found on privately-owned natural areas throughout Canada. The Ecological Gifts Program enables private landowners to conserve important wildlife habitats and ecologically sensitive land across the country through land donations.
Conserving historic and ecologically sensitive land
A portion of Elizabeth Mason’s donation, consisting of 320 meters (1650 feet) of undeveloped shoreline, is pictured here. The area is zoned for the protection of fish spawning habitat.
Photo: Muskoka Heritage Trust © Environment Canada, 2010
The 800th Ecological Gift was donated in February 2010 by Elizabeth Mason to The Muskoka Heritage Trust. This conservation easement of 9.25 hectares (23.12 acres) of Chief Island, located in the Muskoka region of Ontario, will protect a variety of important wildlife species and historically significant land.
This donation joins a network of protected areas in Canada that are making a significant contribution to conserving Canada's wildlife and natural heritage.
What is the Ecological Gifts Program?
The Ecological Gifts Program is a national program that promotes ecological stewardship by providing income tax incentives to protect Canada's environmental heritage. This program allows businesses, families and individual Canadians to help in conserving and protecting nature, and create a legacy for future generations.
Ecological Gifts are as varied as the Canadian landscape, ranging from wetlands, shores and forests, to grasslands and rocky cliffs. An Ecological Gift is a donation of ecologically sensitive land, or an eligible interest or right in ecologically sensitive land to a qualified recipient that protects this land in perpetuity. A wide range of lands qualify as ecologically sensitive and may be eligible as Ecological Gifts.
Since Elizabeth Mason’s donation in February, more have been received. In total, landowners across Canada have donated 828 Ecological Gifts over the past 15 years, covering over 136,439 hectares of land valued at over $539 million. More than one-third of these Ecological Gifts protect areas of national or provincial significance, and many are home to species at risk.
The Honourable Tony Clement, Member of Parliament for Parry Sound-Muskoka, gathered with partners on the Lake Joseph waterfront to celebrate the announcement of the 800th Ecological Gift in MacTier, Ontario on July 30, 2010.
From left to right: Dan Brooks (President, Muskoka Heritage Foundation), Cathy Kuntz (Coordinator, Muskoka Heritage Trust), George Snider (Director, Muskoka Heritage Trust), Elizabeth Mason (800th Ecological Gift donor), Allyn Abbot (President, Muskoka Heritage Trust), Tony Clement (Minister of Industry and Member of Parliament for Parry Sound-Muskoka) and Bill Dickinson (Director of the Muskoka Heritage Trust).
Photo: Ken Black © Environment Canada, 2010
The Ecological Gifts Program complements other national initiatives such as the Natural Areas Conservation Program and the Habitat Stewardship Program and provides enhanced tax benefits to Canadians who generously donate ecologically sensitive land for conservation.
How you can get involved
Each donation, no matter how small, is significant. Ecological Gifts can be donated to a variety of organizations, including environmental charities (approved by Environment Canada), federal, provincial and territorial governments, municipalities, and municipal or public bodies that perform a function of government.
In addition to the peace of mind of knowing that the land will be conserved by the recipient, donors also benefit by being eligible to receive enhanced income tax benefits for their certified donations. Changes to the Income Tax Act introduced in the 2000 and 2006 federal budgets have further enhanced the program's income tax benefits since 1995.
If you own natural land, know someone who does, or are interested in volunteering with a land trust; get involved by checking out the Ecological Gifts Program website, or by contacting your local coordinator!
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- Ecological Gifts conserve important wildlife habitats and ecologically sensitive areas through land donation.
- The 800th Ecological Gift was donated in February 2010 by Elizabeth Mason to The Muskoka Heritage Trust.
- So far, landowners across Canada have donated 828 ecological gifts, covering over 136,439 hectares of land valued at $539 million.
- Donors also benefit from income tax benefits by donating their land through the Ecological Gifts Program.