chignecto-isthmus

Chignecto Isthmus

The Chignecto Isthmus is the narrow land bridge that connects North America to Nova Scotia. Only 17 km in width at its narrowest point, this landscape connection provides important habitat for wildlife moving between New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.

Photo: Jennifer SmithAlthough small in size, this landmass is extremely important for conservation. It contains vast freshwater wetlands that are an important stopover location for thousands of migratory birds. The Chignecto Isthmus contains one of the last strongholds for the endangered mainland moose, and connectivity with New Brunswick allows the local population to be restored with new arrivals from across the border. The area also provides the Town of Amherst with its drinking water supply.

Conservation Significance

  • Important natural landscape connection between Nova Scotia and New Brunswick
  • Protects drinking water supply for the Town of Amherst
  • Vast freshwater wetland complexes that provide important habitat for migratory birds
  • Endangered mainland moose population
  • Rich avian diversity with over 120 species of birds, including olive-sided flycatcher, bald eagle, and common nighthawk
  • Hardwood forests and mixed-wood uplands with patches of mature red spruce forest
  • Significant waterways, including Long Lake, Round Lake, Hackmatack Lake, Patten Lake, and Mosley’s Pond
  • Landscape representation, including one of only a few opportunities for representation of Northumberland Strait Plain Natural Landscape

The threat

Without legal protection, the Chignecto Isthmus will continue to suffer from clearcuts and widespread road building. The area is extensively fragmented, and options for protection are rapidly disappearing. More broadly, the Isthmus is at risk of being closed off by development mainly on the New Brunswick side of the border, which would isolate wildlife populations and potentially cut off their movements into Nova Scotia. The cumulative impacts of habitat fragmentation can be severe in the area, particularly for the endangered mainland moose, which tend to avoid human disturbance and are quickly running out of available habitat.

What CPAWS is doing

CPAWS has been working collaboratively for many years with local community members and groups, including Cumberland Wilderness, to protect the important landscape corridor and vast wetlands and wildlife habitat of the Chignecto Isthmus. We’ve identified the Chignecto Isthmus as a priority conservation opportunity and are working to ensure it is included within the provincial government’s proposal to legally protect at least 12% of Nova Scotia’s landmass by the year 2015. At the moment, only a small portion of the Isthmus is protected, but an expansion is in the works, which could see several thousand hectares of land protected right up to the New Brunswick–Nova Scotia border.

Photo: Jennifer SmithCPAWS Bioblitz 2012

In the summer of 2012, CPAWS organized a bioblitz to gather species data and conservation information in areas proposed for provincial protection in the Chignecto Isthmus. Experts identified 72 species of birds over the course of two days, including two threatened species—the olive-sided flycatcher and the common nighthawk. We also had the opportunity to catch a glimpse of an endangered mainland moose, bringing home to us the importance of this ecological corridor. Thanks to all who participated!

View our photo album of the event.

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