A stretch of the Gull River, between Green Lake and Pine Lake in West Guilford, has been recognized as a national Key Biodiversity Area (KBA).

The designation came during the Convention on Biological Diversity CoP15 negotiations in Montreal.

In a Dec. 20 press release, the Wildlife Conservation Society Canada issued a list of 125 sites across Ontario, listing the Gull River site as just one.

In a follow-up by The Highlander, conservation communications manager, Lynsey Grosfield, indicated there will be more locations identified in future.

“There are a number of sites in the area. One that I can see being assessed right now in the boundaries of Haliburton County is the Highlands Corridor.”

According to the Haliburton Highlands Land Trust, the corridor covers more than 100,000 hectares, “rich with wetlands, forests, wildlife communities, species at risk, and deep carbon deposits.” It extends across southern Haliburton and northern Peterborough counties.

Leora Berman, founder of The Land Between, said her organization has done mapping of biodiversity and ecosystem function units across the region. “And for the Haliburton County area, the Somerville area is very important, as well as the eastwest corridor between Queen Elizabeth II Wildlands Provincial Park and Somerville.

“I have submitted data and proposals. I expect to see at least a few more that we have proposed. There are seven essential areas across The Land Between in total,” Berman said.

Grosfield said the sites are evaluated using international criteria that recognize special areas that support rare and threatened species and ecosystems, and areas of importance within the life cycles of certain species, such as migratory stopover sites, hibernation areas and spawning sites.

She added, “KBAs are a scientifically rigorous tool for identifying the most critical places for nature, and can help governments and organizations to direct resources to areas where they will have the biggest conservation impact.”

The Wildlife Conservation Society Canada has been working with other members of the KBA Canada Secretariat, such as Birds Canada and NatureServe Canada, along with local conservation organizations, citizen scientists, and Indigenous Nations across Canada, to identify KBAs.

“Because KBAs are identified through a scientifically rigorous process, they are a broadly trusted tool for ramping up our conservation efforts in the face of accelerating climate change and disappearing wildlife. While KBAs are not designed to provide any legal protection, they are an excellent way of identifying places where conservation and stewardship efforts can have a large impact on halting and reversing the loss of nature,” Grosfield said.

In the case of the Gull River in West Guilford, it is considered to be under threat from recreational activities, nutrient loads, named species, problematic native species and diseases, soil erosion, sedimentation, dams and water management use.

The report said this stretch of the Gull is one of two locations of the endangered Engelmann’s Quillwort, an aquatic plant that grows in shallow water in lakes and rivers in Canada. Some 68 bird species have also been spotted there.

For more information, go to KBACanada.org.