Saving Thomas Island

Sarah Seeley
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Nature Conservancy of Canada to purchase offshore island

Thomas Island is one of five islands in Murray Harbour targeted for conservation by the Nature Conservancy of Canada because it is an ideal habitat for colonial nesting birds.

Nestled off the southeastern coast of P.E.I. is Thomas Island, a 30-acre island that is home to a vast array of wildlife.

Thomas Island is one of five islands in Murray Harbour and biologists targeted it for conservation because it is an ideal habitat for colonial nesting birds, including the great blue heron, double-crested cormorant and several species of gulls.

The island is also covered in a number of tree species, including mature white spruce, red maple, yellow birch and balsam fir and salt marshes, which are important nesting grounds for the birds.

It was historically used for homesteads and agricultural land, but has long been abandoned.

Due to its small size, all of P.E.I. is contained within the Nature Conservancy of Canada’s (NCC’s) P.E.I. Coast and Forest Natural Area. NCC biologists have identified smaller focal areas on P.E.I. where they focus their conservation efforts, including Thomas Island.

NCC program director Julie Vasseur says the NCC has signed an agreement of purchase. Currently, the group is raising money to buy the island and preserve its beauty.

“We accept donations from all different levels such as individuals, companies and businesses.”

If Thomas Island is not protected by NCC, it would be at risk for development, said Vasseur.

“It would interfere with breeding habitats. The island is a habitat hot spot for those species.”

Thomas Island is identified as a significant environment area by the province of P.E.I., which means it has a high conservational value. The offshore island is one of the last breeding grounds for nesting birds because it is untouched by agricultural or industrial developments.

NCC’s goal is to own all of the Murray Harbour islands and preserve their natural habitats.

“We have this vision for all five islands to be protected. It’d be hard if one was purchased (by a developer).”

Once the island is purchased, people will be allowed to visit the site as a recreational venue, said Vasseur.

“Everyone is welcome. Enjoy the scenery and take pictures, but we ask people to respect the property.”

The island is a prime location for birdwatchers, kayakers and nature-lovers, said Vasseur.

“It’s a really nice area to go and visit for people who want to go to the backwoods of P.E.I. It’s a very wild place.”

Hunting and fishing will also be permitted on Thomas Island when it is purchased, she said.

“Sometimes it’s a hot topic. We don’t condemn it or condone it. We permit it unless the land donor doesn’t want it.”

To learn more about Thomas Island or help with the campaign visit the Nature Conservancy of Canada website at or by phone at 1-877-231-4400.

Organizations: NCC

Geographic location: Thomas Island, P.E.I. Coast, Canada Murray Harbour Forest Natural Area

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Recent comments

  • Muriel Hovorka
    April 09, 2014 - 21:21

    These places are need to keep the genetic diversity necessary to keep wild species alive especially with the advent of global warming. Make it a provincial park or federal park and diversity testing area. The fort macmurray tailing ponds from the oil sands is doing so much damage, so save this area.

  • muriel Hovorka
    April 09, 2014 - 21:16

    These places are needed and necessary to maintaining the natural diversity of att types of wildelife.

  • Greg
    April 09, 2014 - 19:44