Forests are the lungs of the earth and wetlands act as nature’s filtration system, capturing sediments, phosphorous, and cleaning water flowing into streams and lakes. Protecting nature is a global job, and the United Nations would like to see seventeen percent of the planet – excluding oceans – conserved forever. Donating small or large sections of forest or wetland is one way to help conserve nature locally.
Organizations active in conservation in our region:
• Appalachian Corridor Appalachien (ACA) is an umbrella group that offers coordination, mapping, legal advice and biologist’s services to about 16 small private conservation groups in the Eastern Townships.
Several well-known local groups are
• Renaissance Lac-Brome,
• Mount Echo Conservation Association (MECA),
• Brome Lake Land Foundation (BLLF) and
• Ruiter Valley Land Trust (RVLT).
Together they are working to place 17% of the region in conservation status.
There are 348,000 hectares in the Appalachian Corridor. mountain area of southern Quebec; about 26,000 hectares are preserved in some form of conservation status. Half of this is public land – Mount Orford Park and the Green Mountain Park, and half is private land. This is about 7.5% of the area in which the ACA and affiliates are actively working to conserve biodiversity and wildlife habitat. There are also some isolated areas of old-growth forest, quite rare in an area that was settled in the early 1800s, where the majority of land has been cleared for agriculture. We now have lots of forest, in fact, the area of forest in TBL and adjacent West Bolton is increasing as land once used for agriculture is returning to forest through tree planting or natural regeneration.
Several ways to place lands in conservation status:
• Freehold ownership of lands by a conservation organization, either through donation or purchase and gaining Réserve Naturelle status by application to the provincial government.
• Agreement between two landowners to place a conservation servitude on two properties that have an ecological link – perhaps a creek flowing from one to the other – or they cover parts of a wetland or an area of old-growth forest.
• Recent legislation in Quebec allows a property owner to place “une servitude de conservation personnelle” on property in partnership with a conservation organization. This should help increase the amount of land placed in conservation status.
A property owner with land that has high ecological value can use any of these three options to place land in conservation status. The Brome Lake Land Foundation has been active in the TBL area since 1987 and now owns ten properties totalling 215 hectares. Most of the land owned and protected by the BLLF is wetland located in the Brome Lake watershed. Wetland is the main category of land that the Foundation is dedicated to protecting.
One wetland of key importance to Brome Lake lies between Argyll Road, the old railway bed, now a public path, the village of Foster and Brome Lake. The water from this wetland flows into Brome Lake through Quilliams Creek in the north end of the lake and McLaughlin Creek a bit further south.
Names of landowners who have donated land to the BLLF include Fisher, Wirth, Colby, Decelles, Buchanan, Brecht, the Barnesfield Landowners Association and Lequin. Landowners making a property donation will receive an ecological gift donation certificate and continue to live beside a natural area protected in perpetuity, but they will no longer pay property taxes. The ecological gift pro- gram is available to both individuals and to companies.
Réserve Naturelle status brings with it some tax relief, but the burden of property taxes is a serious consideration for small conservation organizations. TBL Municipal Council supports the conservation of biodiversity and the quality of water in the lake and has granted tax exemptions for the properties approved as reserves naturelles owned by the BLLF.