In the dappled shade of a tamarack fen, a ram's-head lady's-slipper silently emerges from the unbroken peat. The fuchsia and white orchid is both startlingly beautiful and rare. The species is difficult to cultivate, and it rarely survives transplanting, so where it occurs, every effort must be made to protect it.
The orchid is just one of the many rare and endangered species found in Manitoba's Whitemouth River watershed. This hotspot for species diversity supports at least 105 provincially rare or uncommon species, including six provincially rare or uncommon orchids, carmine shiner (a nationally and provincially threatened fish species), snapping turtle (a species of concern) and the globally uncommon mottled duskywing butterfly.
This landscape is the meeting place of the boreal coniferous forest, the eastern Superior mixed forest and the western prairie. Vast peatlands and other wetland types extend across close to 50 per cent of this natural area.
With support from the TD Forests program, the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) acquired the 320-acre (130-hectare) Kurian property in the northern part of the Whitemouth River watershed. The black spruce bog forest on the property features trees estimated to be almost 100 years old. This area is ideal habitat for a wide range of species, including moose and numerous species of birds. The property's peatlands support an amazing and colourful variety of plants, including bog rosemary, tuberous grass-pink orchid, blue flag iris, common Labrador tea, bog goldenrod and the carnivorous northern pitcher plant.
TD's five-year contribution is the largest corporate commitment to NCC in the conservation organization's more than 50-year history and is an excellent example of what can be accomplished thanks to corporate partnerships. With support from the TD Forests program, NCC will increase the amount of forested lands protected and cared for in Canada, and will engage Canadians in efforts to conserve forests.
"More than 90 per cent of Canadians have said forests are important to them, and for good reason," says Karen Clarke-Whistler, TD's chief environment officer. "Forests form the backdrop of our lives. They are where we work, live and play."
Forests also play an essential role in cleaning the air and moderating temperatures, she adds. "As our world becomes more urbanized, it is essential to protect forests and the valuable habitats they represent. That's why we made growing the area of protected forest habitat a key pillar of the TD Forests program."
Canada has 10 per cent of the world's forests, and our forests provide habitat for two-thirds of our country's estimated 140,000 species of plants, animals, fungi and other organisms. Thanks to TD's support, NCC is able to make a significant impact in forest conservation from coast to coast. Since its launch in 2012, TD Forests helped NCC protect seven properties, totalling over 1,600 acres (650 hectares), representing six different forest habitat types.
"We are thankful for this generous support, which is a remarkable commitment to conservation across Canada," says John Lounds, NCC's president and CEO. "Together, TD Bank Group and the Nature Conservancy of Canada are ensuring that Canada's incredible forests will be here for our children and grandchildren to cherish in years to come."
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