hikers at marble rock

Marble Rock Conservation Area, 240 hectares of wildlife habitat owned by Cataraqui Conservation and located in the Township of Leeds and the Thousand Islands, was recently found to meet the pan-Canadian standards as a Protected Area. This site now counts towards the total percentage of 10.9% of protected and conserved areas in Ontario and brings Canada closer to meeting its international commitment to protect 30% of land and water by 2030, or “30x30” for short.

“We are very pleased to partner with the Frontenac Arch Biosphere Network and have the Marble Rock Conservation Area designated as a Protected Area.  Marble Rock is an extraordinary natural space, providing key habitat for plant and animal life. This partnership is an excellent opportunity to showcase how we collaborate on safeguarding the environment and promoting ecological health in the Cataraqui Region watershed. We hope that by achieving the status as ‘Protected Area’, this will help to educate and inspire area residents to appreciate both the beauty but also the fragility of nature,” said Cataraqui Conservation General Manager Katrina Furlanetto.

Marble Rock is located within the UNESCO Frontenac Arch Biosphere Region, recognized internationally for its exceptional natural and cultural value. The property is rich with a diversity of plant and animal species and provides habitat for Species at Risk in Ontario including the Least Bittern (Lxobrychus exilis), American Bittern (Botaurus lentiginosus), Pied-billed Grebe (Podilymbus podiceps), Marsh Wren (Cistothorus palustris) and other bird species such as Green-backed Heron (Butorides striatus), American Coot (Fulica Americana) and American Woodcock (Scolopax minor). Intact wetlands and natural shorelines contribute to the area’s huge potential for rare, endangered and at-risk species to inhabit, migrate and breed throughout the area.

The Rideau Trail Association maintains a challenging network of trails throughout the area that rewards hikers with several breathtaking vistas, lush forest cover and interesting rock formations representative of the Precambrian Shield.

Marble Rock’s Protected Area Status was made possible through an ongoing collaboration between Cataraqui Conservation and the Frontenac Arch Biosphere Network (FABN). In 2022, FABN received funds from Environment and Climate Change Canada to work with local conservation groups to assess and report areas meeting the pan-Canadian standards to count towards Canada’s biodiversity targets. The most recent targets, including 30x30, were agreed upon at the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP15) to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity held in Montreal in December 2022. 

There are two categories of land that count toward Canada’s biodiversity targets: protected areas and conserved areas. To qualify as a conserved area, a property does not need to have conservation as its primary purpose, as long as it provides positive outcomes for wildlife. FABN is currently seeking new areas to assess, such as lands owned by municipalities. Municipalities and other organizations are encouraged to contact FABN if they have sites that they feel would be eligible for assessment. FABN would also like to thank the Kawartha Credit Union for their generous support of this work. If you would like more information about the assessment process, you can contact leila@fabn.ca.

About Frontenac Biosphere Network

The Frontenac Arch Biosphere Network contributes to strengthening sustainable community development, celebrating the interconnectedness of nature, livelihood, well-being, and culture, for this and future generations.

About Cataraqui Conservation

Cataraqui Conservation is a community-based environmental protection and advisory agency, created in 1964 by the Province of Ontario at the request of municipalities within the Cataraqui watershed. Its role is to provide programs and services with partner municipalities to further the conservation, restoration, development, and management of natural resources in the Cataraqui Region watershed. Along with these programs and services, it strives to promote sustainable living and work with partners to ensure development upstream does not have detrimental impacts downstream. To learn more about Cataraqui Conservation’s land management and Conservation Areas please visit https://cataraquiconservation.ca.