Protecting and Conserving Nature

Volunteers working on KLT’s Big Island. photo: KLT

The Link, Summer 2018
| by Joanne Culley |

The Kawartha Land Trust (KLT) was founded in 2001 when four concerned individuals who were passionate about the environment got together to form a land trust to protect nearby natural areas. Originally called the Kawartha Heritage Conservancy, the organization started with one property and has grown over the last 17 years to protect 14 properties comprising 3,355 acres of significant, diverse natural lands throughout the Kawarthas.

KLT primarily protects land through donation and conservation agreements rather than purchasing properties. And before each property is accepted, it is necessary to ensure that there is enough designated funding to take care of its maintenance into the future.

“Nature in the Kawarthas continues to be under threat through habitat loss, not only from development but also from invasive species, increased road networks and other changes in use to land,” says Tara King, Development Coordinator. The organization is contributing toward ‘Canada Target 1’ (UN’s Aichi Target 11) where 17 percent of our terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems will be permanently protected by 2020. “Both the federal and provincial governments have signed on to this goal and we’re pleased to be a part of it,” continues King.

The land trust continues to grow and has protected three new properties in the last six months.

“As the land trust has evolved, we are now actively seeking out priority lands to protect, including those identified in the ‘Kawarthas Naturally Connected Preferred Scenario’ which targets natural areas in our region that need to be protected to create a natural heritage system,” she says.

“…trails wend their way through mature maple forests and wetlands.”

The trust’s largest property acquisition so far was Big (Boyd/Chiminis) Island on Pigeon Lake in 2015. “Acquiring and fundraising for the Big Island property really put KLT on the map – we were able to raise $1 million in donations from individuals who felt strongly that this 1085-acre property needed to be protected in perpetuity,” says King. “It’s the largest undeveloped island in the Kawarthas and a wonderful example of what we can achieve when we all work together. Our volunteers are helping to restore it to its natural state, by removing garbage, doing shoreline restoration, maintaining and marking the trails and placing picnic tables. We’re very proud of this protected gem.” Visitors can boat out to the island to explore the 8 km trails that go through forests, wetlands and meadows.

Other KLT properties with trails open to the public for hiking, cross-country skiing or snowshoeing include the Stony Lake Trails in North Kawartha which go through the forests and grasslands of the Canadian Shield and the Land Between, and the Ballyduff Trails in Pontypool with a 10 km trail through the Oak Ridges Moraine.

The latest property KLT is helping to care for, in conjunction with Parks Canada and Municipality of Trent Lakes, is the John Earle Chase Memorial Park at Gannon’s Narrows on the shores of Pigeon Lake – a 400-acre site with 7 km of trails wend their way through mature maple forests and wetlands. More information about the trails can be found at

KLT’s work is carried out by four staff members, along with summer students and many dedicated volunteers. Last year, over 120 volunteers contributed over 7,000 hours, doing everything from trailblazing and maintenance, to garbage removal, plant identification, serving on committees, fundraising and more. The organization holds events such as bird surveys, property clean-ups, work parties and more throughout the year where people can get involved.

As a registered charity, the Kawartha Land Trust receives about a third of its funding from governmental and non-governmental sources, such as Environment and Climate Change Canada and the Ontario Trillium Foundation. The other two-thirds come from individual donors. Those interested in supporting their work can make a donation online.

Joanne Culley is an award-winning writer and documentary producer from Peterborough. Her work has appeared in The Globe and Mail, Peterborough Examiner, and Our Canada magazine.

The Kawartha Land Trust is located in The Mount Community Centre, 1545 Monaghan Rd., Peterborough. To learn more, call 705-743-5599, email or visit

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