A year in review

It’s been an interesting, and busy, year for conservation in Nova Scotia.  Lots of progress has been made creating new protected areas.

With the end of the year fast approaching, let’s take a quick look back at some of the highlights.

Sable Island takes a big step toward protection.  The Federal and NS governments signed a park establishment agreement for Sable Island National Park Reserve, which clears the way for its official designation in the New Year.  This will be Nova Scotia’s third national park, and the first one established in almost a half-century.

Chignecto also takes a big step toward protection.  The Nova Scotia government unveiled a proposed candidate boundary for two new protected areas for Chignecto; Raven Head Wilderness Area for 40km of Bay of Fundy coastline, and Kelley River Wilderness Area for vast inland forests.  In total, about 25,000 hectares of land are recommended for protection, which will result in the largest new protected area established in Nova Scotia in over a decade.  Learn more here.

Progress toward twelve percent protected area target.  The Nova Scotia government has been making steady progress toward its target of protecting at least 12% of Nova Scotia’s landmass by 2015.  This year, the government released a detailed proposal for public review, which could see hundreds of new protected areas established across the province.  Currently, only about 9% of Nova Scotia is legally-protected.  High priority sites on the short-list include large intact forests, rare species habitat, coastal areas, significant wetlands, and sites adjacent to existing protected areas.  Make a public submission online here.

Five Bridge Lakes Wilderness Area established.  After extensive public consultations, the Nova Scotia government officially protected a large tract of wilderness just west of Halifax containing an important population of mainland moose.  The Five Bridge Lakes Wilderness Area is 8,600 hectares in size and provides an important conservation zone near Halifax.

St. Anns Bank chosen as Area of Interest.  Nova Scotia will soon have a new marine protected area, at St. Anns Bank, just off the coast of Cape Breton.  The Federal government chose St. Anns Bank as an Area of Interest and is proceeding with public and stakeholder consultations.

Nova Scotia government invests in private land conservation.  This year, the Nova Scotia government committed about $37 million for expanding the public land base, the substantial majority of which will go toward new protected areas.  This funding includes $23.75 million to buy lands from the Bowater mill in southwestern NS, and $6.5 million directly to the Department of Environment for buying lands for protected areas.

Protected area expansions.  The NS government took steps to expand nine existing protected wilderness areas in the province.  In total, 23 properties will be added to the protected areas, resulting in the protection of 5,000 hectares of new land.