Money from WCF licence plates will fund projects such as education in nature, protecting natural areas or habitat enhancement in new areas
By Doug MacEwen (guest opinion)
In response to “A reader’s view” of Saturday Feb 22, 2014, submitted by Mary Adams.
Mary Adams of Charlottetown expressed concerns over the P.E.I. Conservation Plate Program and where that money is going in The Guardian on Saturday, Feb. 22.
The Prince Edward Island Wildlife Conservation Fund would like to respond in order to clarify some inaccuracies included in that opinion piece.
The Prince Edward Island Wildlife Conservation Fund provides funding to more than 35 projects on P.E.I. annually. More than one million dollars have been distributed to projects since the fund became independent of government in 2006. As a part of the application criteria, those projects should, and do have direct benefit to wildlife and wildlife habitat,
but they can also be for the benefit of natural areas, educational programs, research and monitoring, or habitat enhancement.
In each of those years since 2006, more than 75 per cent of the funds awarded to groups has gone to habitat enhancement projects. The vast majority of those are watershed groups that are doing excellent work to improve our waterways and the natural habitats near them.
WCF funding is distributed via the decisions of an independent (non-government) committee of volunteers. The members of the committee come from across P.E.I. from the hunting community (three members), the angling community (three members), and one member each from: the trapping community, non-consumptive groups, provincial government and watershed groups — for a total of 10 members.
Annually, the committee invites nominations from the public for any open position on the committee.
One hundred per cent of the funds for this important work have, until the initiation of the Conservation Plate program, come from the WCF fees paid by each angler, hunter and trapper who buys annual licences to participate in their activities.
Those fees are collected by the province and are annually directed to the WCF, exclusively.
To date, the structure of the WCF committee, and the projects selected for funding, have reflected that source — anglers, hunters and trappers. The source of the funds for this work has now changed to include the Conservation Plate Program. The WCF does not pay for licences nor does it issue licences.
The P.E.I. WCF now has a new opportunity. The first funds from the Conservation Plate Program are expected to be transferred to the WCF in September.
The fund committee has made the important decision to continue to fund excellent P.E.I. projects as it has for many years, with the added new source — the Conservation Plate funds. Because the majority of the participants in the plate program may not be anglers, hunters or trappers, the WCF committee now has the opportunity to fund more projects that are not as directly related to those pursuits, and can distribute more funds to projects such as education in nature, protecting natural areas, or habitat enhancement in new areas.
I invite participants in the Conservation Plate Program to get more information on the P.E.I. WCF by calling the fund administrator, Island Nature Trust at 566-9150 or visit the WCF web page http://www.gov.pe.ca/forestry/WCF. The WCF plans to develop its own website, but for now, it is hosted on the government site.
Doug MacEwen is chairman of the P.E.I. Wildlife Conservation Fund