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Land sale adds 320 acres to protected area near Whitemouth River

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A forest of 100-year-old trees will live to see another century.

Peat moss will remain a lush green carpet on the forest floor.

The ram’s-head lady’s-slipper orchid, an extremely rare and endangered plant, will thrive.

These and over 105 rare or uncommon species live in a 320-acre area located in the northern portion of the Whitemouth River Watershed Natural Area that is now under the protection of the Nature Conservancy of Canada.

The NCC announced its recent purchase of the property, formerly owned by the Kurian family and located about 80 km east of Winnipeg, as part of National Forest Week Sept. 22–28.

"That property is on the eastern extent of the boreal forest where it appears in Manitoba that far south," said Kevin Teneycke, director of conservation for NCC Manitoba region. "Conserving and protecting some of these peat-based forests is one of our biodiversity targets."

The area is important because it is one of the few areas in Manitoba that include "a diverse mix of boreal upland and wetland habitats" as most of southern Manitoba is aspen parkland, Teneycke said.

Had NCC not acquired it, threats to the area could have reduced its biodiversity - the variation of life forms - by destroying habitats and introducing foreign substances or species into food webs.

"We identify some of the threats in that natural area, things like conversion from forest, unsustainable forestry practice, peat extraction would be some of the threats we’ve identified for this property," Teneycke said. "The acquisition of this property means that property will be managed in the future to maintain its natural state and its biodiversity values."

The NCC said this property connects the Agassiz Provincial Forests to additional land protected by the Nature Conservancy of Canada.

The Kurian property was acquired by the NCC in partnership with the TD Bank Group through the TD Forest Program and the Province of Manitoba.

ashley.prest@freepress.mb.ca

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