The practice of identifying ecologically sensitive lands and protecting them from highly impactful human activities is ageless. In Prince Edward Island, Islanders began asking for a legislative mechanism to protect private land in the 1970’s. In a province where 87 % of the land mass is in private ownership, the pressures from development are felt deeply. With a strong tradition of retaining land within the same family, that pressure is felt particularly when one generation ages and the next generation doesn’t want or can’t maintain the natural landscape of a family property.
In 1988, years of advocacy, discussion and planning resulted in the creation of the PEI Natural Areas Protection Act (NAPA). This provincial piece of legislation allows government, private land trusts and private individuals to protect land in perpetuity. That protection is provided through a restrictive covenant and management plan that is placed on the deed and follows with it, even when there are changes in land ownership. Similar to conservation easements in other provinces, NAPA protection provides a landowner with comfort that their beloved slice of Island heaven will endure in its natural state, experiencing change on natural and geological time scales instead of accelerated human ones. In recognition of the immense ecological services that undeveloped land provides to all Islanders through contributions to clean air, rivers and groundwater, NAPA protected land is exempt from provincial property taxes.
If your land contains an area of healthy natural woodland, wetland or coastline and you would like to see those habitats protected beyond your lifetime, we can help you through the process of legal protection. You can retain ownership of the land and still place this restrictive covenant and vision for management in place. Our resource guide “Protecting Natural Places in Prince Edward Island”’ provides more detail on this option and is available here or in paper copy at our offices in Ravenwood. Island Nature Trust Executive Director, Megan Harris, is also happy to meet with you to work through the possibilities for your land on a timeline that suits you.