Environment and Conservation
April 6, 2009

Mistaken Point Ecological Reserve Expanded to Protect World-Class Fossils

In response to new fossil discoveries directly adjacent to the existing Mistaken Point Ecological Reserve, an expansion has been established under the Wilderness and Ecological Reserves Act. This additional area has been formally established as part of the reserve and contains complex fossils older than those previously identified within the original ecological reserve boundary. The expansion doubles the size of the reserve to 5.7 km2.

Mistaken Point Ecological Reserve is located on the southern Avalon Peninsula near Cape Race. It was originally established in 1987 to protect a diverse fossil record of animal evolution and protects the oldest and largest Ediacaran fossils (620-542 million years ago) known anywhere in the world.

"Enlarging Mistaken Point Ecological Reserve and updating the regulations and management plan are important steps in demonstrating to the international community our commitment to protecting this significant fossil site," said the Honourable Charlene Johnson, Minister of Environment and Conservation. "The expansion is a critical part in our effort to obtain status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site."

Mistaken Point Ecological Reserve was added to Canada’s official tentative list of potential world heritage properties in 2004.

The first priority for management of Mistaken Point Ecological Reserve is to ensure protection of the fossils at a level consistent with international standards for world heritage sites. However, access to the reserve for research, education, tourism and traditional activities by local residents is permitted where it does not conflict with the primary objective of preservation. Individuals are permitted to have beach fires at the Drook and Long Beach, pick berries, fish and hunt sea ducks within the reserve.

"Mistaken Point is an important economic driver in the Portugal Cove South and the Southern Avalon Region, and I am delighted it has been expanded to conserve even more of the significant fossils at the site," said Keith Hutchings, MHA for the District of Ferryland. "I also commend the people of the area who have contributed to the conservation of this provincial reserve. This expansion builds upon their earlier efforts."

The fossil beds in the reserve are vulnerable to coastal erosion and human foot traffic. Because of an anticipated increase in visitation to the site, access to the fossils is now by guided tour or permit only. This will allow visitors an opportunity to view the fossils, while ensuring protection of them at the same time. Interpreters will be offering guided tours as of June 8.

"We have a world-class fossil site, and support from community groups and individuals in and around Portugal Cove South has also been nothing short of world-class," said Minister Johnson. "The continued support of the people in the area will be instrumental for a successful nomination for world heritage site status."

For more information about the fossils at Mistaken Point, a copy of the 2009 Mistaken Point Ecological Reserve Management Plan or for permits and guided tours, please contact Parks and Natural Areas Division at 709-635-4520 or parksinfo@gov.nl.ca

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Media contact:

Melony O’Neill
Director of Communications
Department of Environment and Conservation
709-729-0928, 689-0928

2009 04 06                                                         9:45 a.m.

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