International Biological Programme (I.B.P) Sites:
Between 1965 and 1972, the International Biological Programme (I.B.P) [Conservation Terrestrial section]
identified 81 ecologically representative sites in Newfoundland and Labrador as potential "I.B.P. Sites",
and surveyed most of them (I.B.P. 1974). The
goal was to recommend, to Government, the preservation of all those I.B.P. Sites
that proved to be of critical ecologically importance (Tompa 1971).
In 1971, three relatively unspoiled "limestone barrens" areas were surveyed, and subsequently recommended to Government
as worthy representatives of that habitat type:
A 57 km2 area east of Eddies Cove East (I.B.P. 8.01 - "Northern
The "Northern Peninsula Barrens" site was subsequently compromised when the Northern Peninsula
Highway was re-routed inland, just east of Eddies Cove East, separating the southern quarter of the site
from the rest of it (W. J. Meades 1982),
and causing a lot of localized habitat degradation. A replacement I.B.P. Site was quickly selected, further to the northeast,
between Watts Point and Four Mile Cove.
After some adjustments, the Watts Point Ecological Reserve eventually resulted.
A 9.6 km2 area on the summit of Table Mountain, just north of Port au
Port (I.B.P. 8.05 - "Table Mountain Plateau") ["Special Site"]
A very small 0.25 km2 area near Big Brook (I.B.P. 8.34 - "Big Brook Barrens") ["Special Site"]
Early Reactions to Habitat Degradation Resulting from Highway Construction:
In March of 1979, a biology student, Robin T. Day, wrote to an official of the Department of Environment, Government of Newfoundland,
to note the concerns of a rock garden enthusiast from New Brunswick who had been travelling annually to the
"limestone barrens" in the Strait of Belle Isle since 1970 (Day 1979,
W. J. Meades 1982).
That informant had apparently noted "extensive damage to [plant] habitat over the past eight years".
The same informant further related (according to Day 1979), that: "in
the process of widening and straightening the west coast highway, from Portland Creek to Eddies Cove
the surface limestone rubble and gravel has been scraped off the land. Municipalities of this area have
also been taking the loose rubble for their own purposes. The limestone barrens often occupy only a narrow
strip of land running along the coast and this is where the quarrying has been concentrated. There is a rock
crushing station at Eddies Cove and some quarrying north of this town. Most of the area north of Eddies Cove
is untouched ..."
The Government official reacted favourably to Day's letter, noting that he had tabled the letter when
he raised the matter at a meeting of the "Wildlands Committee" (the committee charged with drafting the
Province's "Wilderness and Ecological Reserves Act"), noting further that several members of the Committee
(although not himself) were aware of the gravel-pitting problem in the Strait of Belle Isle.
Committee member William J. Meades
(perhaps coincidentally?) made a survey of the Great Northern Peninsula "limestone barrens" during the summer of 1979
(W. J. Meades 1982).
Saving Burnt Cape:
Gravel-pitting began on Burnt Cape about 1985. In 1994, after almost 10 years of relatively small scale operations,
plans were put forward for a MAJOR "limestone" bedrock mining enterprise that would not only completely jeopardize the
unique and rare flora of the Cape, but also, eventually, destroy the Cape itself.
In September 1994, botanist Susan J. Meades, with the support of some others, began a campaign to have Burnt
Cape declared an ecological reserve (Meades
1995: pp. 13-16). The
campaign eventually bore fruit, with quarrying finally coming to an end in 1995 - but only after an unbelievably dramatic series of
events that read like a soap opera!
Susan Meades' detailed accounts of this struggle
1995 pp. 13-16; Meades 1996: pp. 7-17) are
a real "eye-opener", and well worth the read! [See also, portions of the: Burnt
Cape Ecological Reserve Management Plan]
Burnt Cape attained Provisional Reserve status under the Wilderness and Ecological Reserves Act on January 23, 1998; and
full Ecological Reserve status on March 24, 2000
[see press release]
[Page last updated: May 26, 2011]
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