© Submitted photo
The Nature Conservancy of Canada has conserved 13 acres (5.26 hectares) of ecologically significant land on Sandy Point Island in St. George's Bay.
This private land purchase marks the Conservancy's 10th land acquisition on Sandy Point, bringing the total of conserved land in the area to over 80 acres since 2004.
Sandy Point is located in south western Newfoundland and is the largest barrier beach in the province, according to the Conservancy's prepared release.
Once the largest human settlement on the west coast of Newfoundland, Sandy Point has been abandoned since the 1960s. With accessibility only by boat from the nearby town of St. George's, Sandy Point receives visitors each summer.
"Sandy Point Beach is rich with natural beauty and ecological value," said Nature Conservancy of Canada's Newfoundland and Labrador Program Manager Lanna Campbell. "With key natural features such as ponds used by a variety of waterfowl and 200 metres of sandy beach, this property is a priority for protection."
Sandy beaches, which occur on less than five per cent of the Newfoundland coastline, provide critical habitat for endangered piping plovers. Census data reveals there are just approximately 6,000 remaining in the world. 2011 was the last international breeding census for piping plovers, which happens every five years.
The numbers for the Eastern Canada population, 442 adults, were the lowest since the survey started in 1991, and a decrease of 12 per cent since 2006. Although this new property has yet to host the endangered shorebird, nearby areas on the island are known to each year. The piping plover, is a small shorebird that uses coastal sand and gravel beaches for nesting and feeding habitat. The property also contains several of the 11 rare plants found on Sandy Point.