HHLT hopes to maintain the Highlands Corridor

By Chad Ingram

The Haliburton Highlands Land Trust has made an application to the Ontario government to have a swath of natural habitat it is referring to as the Highlands Corridor added to a list of protected land within the province.

Haliburton County councillors heard a presentation from Shelley Hunt of the land trust and Paul Heaven of Glenside Ecological Services during a June 23 online meeting. As Hunt explained, the federal government has pledged to protect 25 per cent of its land base by 2025, and 30 per cent by 2030. Currently, Hunt said, 12 per cent of land nationally is protected, 11 per cent within Ontario.

“So, there’s a bit of a long way to before we hit that 30 per cent target,” she said, explaining that the 30 per cent threshold is one that has been identified by scientific experts as being key to sustaining long-term environmental health.

“Beyond just sort of helping to meet those provincial targets, there’s [a] lot of great reasons to protect more land in this area,” Hunt said, adding some of those included climate change mitigation, maintaining wildlife habitat and providing connectivity of that habitat.

Much of the habitat included in what the land trust is referring to as the Highlands Corridor lies within the Township of Minden Hills. A series of wetlands, it includes some Crown land, some properties owned by the land trust, and some municipal parks. In total, it would add 70,000 hectares to the province’s protected land mass, Hunt said.

“I would like to know specifically what is it that we could do to help your efforts to see some [of] the Crown lands get greater protection?” asked Algonquin Highlands Deputy Mayor and County Warden Liz Danielsen.

Heaven, who noted the project is in preliminary stages with boundaries still being identified, said that at this point generating interest and enthusiasm for project would be helpful.

“We will not be able to [get] provincial interest unless we get local community interest,” he said. “We need council on board, we need the community on board.”

The land trust’s full presentation can be viewed on the agenda for the June 23 Haliburton County council meeting.