Environment and Conservation
May 30, 2007

Newest Reserve Protects Rare Plant at Sandy Cove

The Provincial Government has declared its newest provisional ecological reserve at Sandy Cove on the Northern Peninsula, and in doing so protects an endangered plant found nowhere else in the world.

The Sandy Cove Provisional Ecological Reserve has been established under the Wilderness and Ecological Reserves Act and the Botanical Ecological Reserve Regulations. The reserve protects the endangered plant braya longii, a small plant that grows on a 10-kilometre stretch of coastal limestone barren near the community of Sandy Cove.

"The Provincial Government has taken steps to address long-term protection of this species and to conserve its critical habitat," said the Honourable Clyde Jackman, Minister of Environment and Conservation. "The Limestone Barrens Species at Risk Recovery Team identified six primary strategies to help secure the survival of the braya, including protection of habitat. By establishing this reserve, we recognize habitat management and protection are key to the survival and recovery of long�s braya."

Long�s braya has been designated as endangered under both the federal Species at Risk Act (SARA) and the provincial Endangered Species Act (ESA) because of its extremely restricted global range and its loss of limestone barrens habitat.

The minister noted there is strong enthusiasm and support for the establishment of the reserve.

"Since 2004, community groups requested the establishment of a reserve to protect long�s braya, and several letters of support were received from the Limestone Barrens Species at Risk Recovery Team, the Straits Elementary School, the Town of Flower�s Cove, the Nordic Economic Development Corporation, and the Straits Development Association," said Minister Jackman. "These groups are setting a good example for other communities and are committing to being good stewards of the barrens."

The Northern Peninsula has also been the subject of intensive stewardship activities through the provincial Wildlife Division and the Habitat Stewardship Program administered by Environment Canada. To date, three stewardship agreements have been signed with the Flower�s Cove Town Council, the Straits Elementary School, and local landowners, Ren and Madeline White.

"To heighten awareness of the limestone barrens rare and fragile ecosystem, the recovery team engaged local residents through education and stewardship initiatives," said Luise Hermanutz, co-chair of the Limestone Barrens Species at Risk Recovery Team. "Local surveys indicated that citizens support the establishment of a reserve which protects the last undisturbed limestone barrens habitat for this globally unique plant."

Dulcie House, program coordinator with the Limestone Barrens Habitat Stewardship Program, said that Sandy Cove�s provisional status complements the actions of local residents who are currently engaged in good stewardship practices for the Great Northern Peninsula limestone barrens and its species at risk. In addition, it provides an essential support for the goodwill efforts of residents who acknowledge their responsibility and recognize this opportunity to help ensure the protection of limestone barrens areas that have not been disturbed.

"This habitat also provides an educational opportunity for students of the area to learn more about species at risk by studying the limestone barrens at Sandy Cove," said Minister Jackman. "Protecting long's braya will provide a very rich learning environment for area students."

The minister added that through the establishment of this reserve, local stewards will be assured the unique resources they are privileged to enjoy today will be there for future generations.

The Department of Environment and Conservation is planning an information session for communities in the area. In accordance with legislation, the Wilderness and Ecological Reserves Advisory Council (WERAC) will also host an official public consultation to ensure all public and private interests are fairly heard and considered when determining the area�s suitability for permanent reserve establishment.

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Media contact:
Diane Hart
Director of Communications
Department of Environment and Conservation
709-729-2575, 685-4401

2007 05 30                                            10:00 a.m.


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