Mike Dembeck

Prince Edward Island

Number of projects: 3

Land value: Land value is the appraised value of land that NCC has conserved directly and with partners. $309,500

Acres conserved: 279

Stewardship volunteers: 8

Protecting the Cascumpec Sandhills

Mike Dembeck

The Cascumpec Sandhills are among Prince Edward Island’s most fragile and vital habitats — fragile because they are continually shifting as they bear the brunt of severe storms, and vital because they support rare plant species and provide valuable habitat for rare and endangered birds. Located on the northwest shore, the Cascumpec Sandhills are part of a chain of near-shore islands considered PEI’s last true wilderness.

Thanks to the generosity of a donor with PEI roots, the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) has conserved an exceptional 150-acre (60-hectare) shorebird habitat on the Cascumpec Sandhills; a critical nesting site for endangered piping plover. Through the conservation of its Cascumpec Sandhills property, and its nearby Conway Sandhills property, NCC now protects some of the most secluded nesting areas in Atlantic Canada for this globally rare species.

The conservation of this property was made possible through the Government of Canada, under the Natural Areas Conservation Program as well as the Ecological Gifts Program. The American Friends of Nature Conservancy of Canada also contributed generously to this project.

Helping vulnerable shorelines thrive


Boughton Island, located near Cardigan in eastern Prince Edward Island, is a true treasure on Canada’s East Coast. Uninhabited since the Second World War, it has existed without any significant development or human interference for more than 60 years, allowing wildlife to live and breed on the island.

Boughton Island is a popular destination for residents and tourists who enjoy picnicking, kayaking, birding and going for beach walks here. A hot spot for both humans and wildlife, it is critical that Boughton Island is well-maintained. Each winter, storms strand plastics and marine debris on the island’s shoreline. Thanks to ongoing stewardship from NCC through our Conservation Volunteers (CV) program, regular beach cleanups at Boughton ensure that vulnerable shorebird habitat is protected.

At a 2016 CV event on the island, volunteers collected plastics and marine debris, including 800 large buoys. The buoys were removed and recycled with the help of NCC staff, volunteers and local members of the aquaculture industry.

The protection of Boughton Island is a priority for NCC, to ensure this PEI jewel remains pristine for both wildlife and people to enjoy.

Designing plans for PEI

Mike Dembeck

A second-generation Natural Area Conservation Plan (NACP) was completed to guide the next 10 years of NCC conservation projects on Prince Edward Island. Not only does this mean we can focus our work in areas with the highest conservation priorities, it also helps us responsibly ensure that our supporters’ donations are invested directly into landscapes with the highest conservation value.

In Canada’s most densely populated province, where agriculture and tourism are the dominant industries, there are few undeveloped areas remaining. Key conservation targets highlighted in the NACP for PEI are coastline, salt marshes and older forests. The plan helps protect species at risk, including migratory birds and rare plant species. 

Updating the NACP is a huge effort — work that could not be finished without the help of our conservation partners on PEI. Our partners’ insight and advice is invaluable: from providing data, to critical document review, they are an integral part in making sure we are creating an accurate portrayal of the province’s landscape and of the ecological significance of areas across the island.

One of NCC’s nature reserves — Holman’s Island — is the home of PEI’s first summer resort, which mysteriously burned down in 1904.Today, Holman's Island provides habitat for many species of birds, including Atlantic brant, Canada geese and endangered red knot.