The Task Force on Land Use Policy, headed by John Handrahan, has presented its draft report, as a way to obtain additional input from Islanders. The report is wide ranging and recommends important approaches to many aspects of our land and water resources.
Nature P.E.I. / The Natural History Society of P.E.I. appreciate this significant document and applauds the task force members on their activities to raise awareness of the issues facing P.E.I. We would also like to emphasize a few points related to the natural environment.
As one of the most densely settled provinces, the off-shore islands that surround us have taken on a special role for colonial nesting birds offering nesting and feeding areas where they are relatively undisturbed. Many off-shore islands in Nova Scotia and Maine have become sought after sites for private cottages among international buyers.
In P.E.I., the Island Nature Trust, the Nature Conservancy of Canada and individuals with foresight have worked to ensure islands are preserved in a natural state. As a "string of pearls" that surround us, islands act as a coastal buffer from more intense wave action, and a concerted effort to ensure their permanent protection is needed.
As concerns grow among Canadians for biodiversity, the scientific knowledge about the biology of P.E.I. remains limited. Settlement patterns put most of our landmass to work in farming, forestry and settlement have limited habitat available for native species.
Where provincial museums in other provinces continue to document the flora and fauna of their area, the lack of funds to support these activities within the mandated P.E.I. Museum & Heritage Foundation, has left us with limited knowledge of our own area.
Scientific knowledge based on research is essential for making decisions dealing with complex issues of biodiversity from endangered species to foreign invasive species.
Education and citizen science participation are equally important as documentation efforts today, will be valuable tomorrow for comparative purposes.
The report addresses coastal erosion and water resources which have become more significant issues along with broad land use concerns. We applaud the efforts of the Task Force on Land Use Policy for helping Islanders discuss these important environmental and land use issues and encourage all Islanders to get involved.
With a link called Land Use Policy Survey at the main provincial government website (gov.pe.ca) the documents, video and online survey provide a mechanism for everyone to get involved. With such important issues at stake, continued public participation is essential.
By Ian Scott
- Ian Scott is the president of Nature P.E.I.