05/21/2015 15:21 EDT | Updated 05/21/2016 01:12 EDT

Group raising $4M to buy large natural area outside Edmonton

EDMONTON - An environmental group is trying to raise money to preserve what it calls one of the largest undeveloped landscapes near the city of Edmonton.The Nature Conservancy of Canada hopes to raise $4 million to purchase about 240 hectares of forest and wildlife habitat on the southwest edge of the city.The land is now owned by five families who have preserved it in its natural state and who have agreed to sell it to the conservancy at a fraction of its market value.Its wetlands and forests, including some of the oldest jack pine left in Alberta, are home to owls, moose, deer and songbirds.The plan is to turn to the land into the Bunchberry Meadows Conservation Area, a public space where people can stroll through a natural forest just minutes from the city. The conservancy says it has until the end of the year to raise the needed funds.