CEO, Bruce Trail Conservancy
The Bruce Trail Conservancy invites us to explore nature and to protect it for generations to come.
The Bruce Trail is one of Canada’s extraordinary hikes, stretching 900 kilometres along the unparalleled natural beauty of the Niagara Escarpment. In a day’s stroll or a month’s trek, one can experience one of the most ecologically diverse areas in Canada, nestled within Ontario’s most densely populated region. The Bruce Trail is in equal measures a call to explore and a call to conserve nature.
The Bruce Trail Conservancy is the non-profit organization responsible for caring for this remarkable footpath. But as its name suggests, there’s more to its work than that. Actively protecting and stewarding Niagara Escarpment land is central to its mission: preserving a ribbon of wilderness, for everyone, forever.
Conserving a natural masterpiece
The Niagara Escarpment itself is a global treasure, a UNESCO World Biosphere, and part of Ontario’s Greenbelt. The unique geology of the escarpment creates a variety of irreplaceable habitats that support a wide array of species. This biodiversity, greater here than in any biosphere in Canada, has drawn people to this area for millennia. Yet we’ve become increasingly disconnected from nature and the impact of our actions — locally and globally — threaten the very ecosystems upon which we depend.
“In the 1960s, our founders saw that the Niagara Escarpment was being developed at an unsustainable pace. They dreamed of a public footpath to showcase the beauty and biodiversity of the escarpment, so that people would be inspired to protect it,” says Bruce Trail Conservancy CEO, Michael McDonald. “Today, pressures on our natural world are greater than ever and our work — as one of Ontario’s largest land trusts and stewards of Canada’s longest public footpath — has never been more important.”
The Bruce Trail Conservancy is connecting people to the Niagara Escarpment not only through the Bruce Trail, but also through a growing network of protected natural areas. Every year the Bruce Trail Conservancy brings more Niagara Escarpment land into conservation in its efforts to protect and connect vital ecosystems, and to create a permanent home for the Bruce Trail.
A ribbon of wilderness, for everyone
While it may seem that the density of contemporary Southern Ontario is at odds with the splendour of the escarpment’s natural biodiversity, this coexistence is critical to future of the trail. The rare species of orchids and ferns that grow on the escarpment, the raptors that soar along its cliff edges, the threatened salamanders that breed in its ephemeral pools — all of them can be protected if we act swiftly and work together.
“When we talk about protecting nature, we’re not protecting it from people, we’re protecting it for people,” says McDonald. “People thrive when nature thrives. Our mission involves people because we ourselves are part of this biodiversity.”
When we talk about protecting nature, we’re not protecting it from people, we’re protecting it for people. People thrive when nature thrives.
People are inextricably intertwined with the ecosystems the Bruce Trail Conservancy is working to preserve, restore, and protect. And people are also the most potent resource for that conservation. The Bruce Trail Conservancy is a volunteer and member-based organization that is primarily funded by donations from individuals. Today, over 1,400 volunteers contribute their time and talents to protect the natural environment of the Bruce Trail and the Niagara Escarpment. It’s clear that people not only want to explore the Niagara Escarpment, they want to take action to preserve its diverse spaces and species and make it available for future generations.
For those looking to get involved, a hike along the trail is an easy and rewarding first step into the world of this incredible conservation project. But the trail is just the beginning.
Taking Bold Steps for Conservation and Connection to Nature
of vital Niagara Escarpment habitats have been protected by the Bruce Trail Conservancy, with more being added every year.
70% of the
is within a protected natural corridor. One in every three steps on the Bruce Trail is on land vulnerable to development.
of Conservation Concern have been recorded in Bruce Trail Conservancy protected natural areas, part of the most diverse biosphere in Canada.
support the mission of the Bruce Trail Conservancy.
contribute their time and talents to maintaining trail, caring for protected areas, leading hikes and more.
are maintained and ready to connect you to the natural wonders of the Niagara Escarpment.
You can help preserve a ribbon of wilderness, for everyone, forever.