Situated in Norfolk County, Long Point and the surrounding watershed has the largest diversity of plants and animals in Canada and is a world-famous location for migrating birds and rare Carolinian forests. These and other ecological features led to the designation of the Long Point area as a Biosphere Reserve by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 1986.
Biosphere Reserves are globally important ecosystems that are internationally recognized by UNESCO’s Man and Biosphere (MAB) program. Today, there are 701 World Biosphere Reserves spanning 124 countries, with 18 of these in Canada. While the Biosphere Reserve designation does not bring with it any new authorities over lands, water, or resources, its intent is to encourage local communities to combine conservation of biodiversity with sustainable community development.
In August 2017, a significant portion of the Long Point Biosphere Reserve was selected as a “Priority Place” for conservation of Species at Risk by the federal government. The designation as the Long Point Walsingham Forest (LPWF) brings with it funding from the federal government, in collaboration with provincial and territorial governments, to support the conservation work being done locally by various groups and organizations.
The LPWF Priority Place includes the Long Point Biosphere’s significant areas: the core areas on Long Point and Backus woods; the buffer zone, which includes the Big Creek National Wildlife Area and the Turkey Point marshes; and the zone of cooperation in the southwestern portion of Norfolk County.
Having multiple designations in one area may seem confusing, especially given that Long Point itself holds even more recognitions as an internationally recognized Ramsar wetland site, an Important Bird and Biodiversity Area, and more. Such recognitions are important avenues to receiving support and funding for conservation activities. More than that, they show broad recognition of the site as important in many ways and to many groups and people. Beyond these designations, Long Point and all of Norfolk County is important to the people who live here, have lived here, or visit here, and who appreciate the natural heritage this place has to offer.