Orillia, Ontario - The Honourable Rona Ambrose, Minister of the Environment, today announced the donation of Canada's 500th ecological gift, namely the Prairie Smoke nature reserve.
"The donation of the Prairie Smoke property marks an important milestone in the Ecological Gifts Program. It will become part of the 46,000 hectares of donated private land already in protection under this program - a significant contribution by Canadian landowners"
- Minister Ambrose
This brings the total value of ecological gift lands to more than $150 million dollars. The property is 275 hectares of a rare type of habitat and is located near Orillia, Ontario.
The Ecological Gifts Program enables landowners to create a natural legacy and protect family lands, while benefiting from specific tax benefits. Many Canadians who own wetlands, woodlands and other wildlife habitats cherish their land and want to see its natural features preserved.
"The donation of the Prairie Smoke property marks an important milestone in the Ecological Gifts Program. It will become part of the 46,000 hectares of donated private land already in protection under this program - a significant contribution by Canadian landowners", said Minister Ambrose. "This is a realistic, results-oriented approach to protecting our environment," added Minister Ambrose. "The Government's introduction of a new tax incentive for donations of sensitive lands demonstrates our firm commitment to real environmental solutions and economic benefits to Canadians."
The Prairie Smoke nature reserve, donated by Karen Popp of Brechin, Ontario, to the Nature Conservancy of Canada, is the latest addition to a network of nature reserves across Canada. Prairie Smoke is part of the Carden Plain, home to globally rare occurrences of alvar, a prairie-like ecosystem situated over limestone bedrock. This seemingly harsh environment is home to many rare and uncommon species - from a blanket of native wildflowers, such as the namesake Prairie Smoke, to endangered birds, such as the Eastern Loggerhead Shrike. In addition, the donated land is in the centre of an internationally recognized Important Bird Area (IBA). IBAs are sites that provide essential habitat for one or more species of birds.
In recognition of these generous donations of land by Canadians, the Government of Canada announced in Budget 2006 that Ecological Gifts made after May 2, 2006 will be exempt from the capital gains inclusion for income tax purposes.
An ecological gift is a donation of land or an interest in land - such as a conservation easement, covenant or servitude - that has been certified as "ecologically sensitive" according to specific national and provincial criteria, to an approved environmental charity or any level of government. Ecologically sensitive lands are areas or sites that currently, or could in the future, significantly contribute to the conservation of Canada's biodiversity and environmental heritage. In exchange for their gift, donors of certified ecologically sensitive lands enjoy special income tax provisions specific to their gift. Ecological gifts receive tax treatment that is different from most other charitable gifts. Some benefits that they may receive are reduced taxable capital gain on the disposition of the property; no income limit for calculating the tax credit/deduction; donation value certified by the Government of Canada; and a tax liability for donees that do not protect the gifted land.
Article has been adapted from a news release issued by Environment Canada.