Prince Edward Island is a special place. As an Island, it has 1,100 km of shoreline, indented with productive bays and coves, and dotted with rolling sand dunes and soaring red cliffs. Our Island is home to thousands of species of plants and animals and many distinct habitat types. Islanders have always had a strong connection to the land. It has nourished us, challenged us, and inspired us; And every year, thousands from around the world visit PEI to enjoy its unique landscape.
Approximately 4.9% of PEI is protected from development; but less than 0.3% has been formally protected on private land. Currently, the Province is committed to protecting 7% of the total land base.
Ensuring that there are natural areas for plants and animals to live and for future generations to enjoy requires a commitment from Islanders to private land conservation. With almost 90% of PEI being privately owned, achieving our conservation commitments must include private land stewardship. Fortunately, landowners can take positive steps to protect their special “pieces” of nature. There is a growing movement of landowners in PEI who are choosing to preserve their cherished and important lands. Outlined below are options for private land conservation and the benefits of each option.
Why do protected areas matter?
PEI’s natural landscape is beautiful and diverse. From secluded offshore islands and rich woodlands, to productive salt marshes and estuaries; from expansive sand dunes and barrier beaches, to diverse peatlands and riparian forests, PEI’s natural landscape benefits us all.
However, centuries of clearing land for agriculture and development have dramatically altered our Island’s natural landscape. Large, intact forests and natural ecosystems are becoming increasingly rare in PEI, and many of our cherished wildlife species face uncertain futures. The conservation of our remaining large, intact ecosystems, as well as small habitat patches, is critical to protecting our natural landscape, wildlife species, and ecosystem functioning.
Landowners who protect their land help to protect natural ecosystems. Intact natural ecosystems purify our air and water; buffer against flooding, pollution, and erosion; store and cycle carbon; cycle nutrients and build soil; provide recreational opportunities; protect species and genetic diversity, and connectivity; and conserve wildlife habitat & species, including species at risk and culturally significant species.
Our protected areas network not only provides important benefits to Islanders and wildlife, but they define our province and who we are as Prince Edward Islanders.
What should I know as a landowner?
- Private landowners are critical in ensuring the conservation of our natural landscape and ecosystem functioning
- There are various options available to landowners who wish to protect their land, depending on your needs and vision for your land
- Landowners can retain ownership and use their land while still protecting their property with a restrictive covenant or conservation agreement through the Natural Areas Protection Act or the Wildlife Conservation Act
- There are several provincial partners who can work with you to meet your conservation goals
What are some opportunities to protect areas on PEI?
There are several options for private land stewardship in PEI. Some of the benefits and limitations of each option are outlined below. If you are interested in protecting your land or learning more, contact the Province or any of the provincial partners listed below.
Restrictive Covenants and Conservation Easements
Landowners can protect their land with a restrictive covenant, through the Natural Areas Protection Act or a conservation easement through the Wildlife Conservation Act, and still retain ownership:
- Restrictive covenants are legally binding agreements
- The Natural Areas Protection Act can be used to protect land in perpetuity, while a conservation easement under the Wildlife Conservation Act may be time limited
- Lands designated through restrictive covenants are exempt from property taxes
- Permanent buildings, structures and other developments will be excluded from the covenant
For more information on restrictive covenants and conservation easements, please click here.
- Donating land can come with associated costs, including capital gains tax on property that has increased in value since the time of purchase
- Lands may qualify under the Federal Ecological Gifts Program, which can provide significant tax benefits to donors of qualifying lands. For qualifying lands, the province or our provincial partners can help you process your donation through this program.
To inquire about land donation, please click here.
Fee-Simple Purchase of Ecologically Significant Land
The province and our partners have programs to purchase ecologically significant lands at fair market value. Ecologically significant land may include coastlines, upland forests, marshes, bogs, riparian zones, ponds etc. If you are interested in discussing fee-simple purchase of your land, please contact Forests, Fish & Wildlife.
NEW! Buffer Zone Acquisition Program
- A new program is designed to purchase and protect riparian buffer zones across PEI
- Lands that fall within 50 meters of a watercourse or wetland are eligible
To inquire about the Buffer Zone Acquisition Program, please click here.
No single agency can achieve protection goals in PEI. It takes partnerships among Government, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), landowners, and a flexible suite of legislative and non-legislative tools and incentives. For more information on any of the land conservation options presented, please contact Forests, Fish & Wildlife or any of the following provincial partners who can help you get started:
Province of PEI
Forests, Fish & Wildlife