CPAWS welcomes Bowater land purchase in Nova Scotia
HALIFAX – The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) welcomes today’s announcement by the Nova Scotia government that it has acquired all of the Bowater lands for sale in the province.
“This is an historic land purchase”, says Chris Miller, National Conservation Biologist for CPAWS, based in Halifax. “Nova Scotia is emerging as a leader in Canada for the protection of wilderness and is making considerable progress expanding the public land base”.
In total, the Nova Scotia government has acquired 220,000 hectares of land from Resolute Forest Products with today’s land purchase, in addition to approximately 10,000 hectares of land that were acquired from the company earlier this year. In total, this amounts to approximately 4% of Nova Scotia’s landmass.
With the Bowater land purchase now complete, about one-third of Nova Scotia is publicly-owned, up from only about one quarter a few years ago.
“The Nova Scotia government has made remarkable progress over the past few years expanding the public land base”, says Miller. “And, the Bowater lands, in particular, are of exceptional natural value, containing large intact forests, species-at-risk habitat, significant wetlands, entire watersheds, sites adjacent to protected areas, and landscape connectivity zones”.
When the Bowater mill closed in June 2012 and all of the Bowater lands were put up for sale, CPAWS was very concerned that a foreign multi-national company would swoop in and acquire the lands and begin to liquidate the natural asset. This trend is occurring in New England and has started to creep across the border and into the Maritime provinces in recent years. Under this scenario, the best lands along lakes and rivers, or in close proximity to cities and towns, are often flipped for development and deforested, while the remaining lands are stripped of their resource to recoup the costs of the land purchase. With the province stepping in to acquire the Bowater lands, thankfully that worst-case scenario has now been avoided.
“The Nova Scotia government is showing real leadership in stepping in and acquiring the Bowater lands”, says Miller. “By taking control of the resource, Nova Scotians will be able to determine what happens on these lands and ensure that the benefits stay in the province”.
The Bowater land holdings contain some of the best remaining stands of old-growth Acadian forest in the province, as well as supporting some of the rarest plants in Canada. With the land purchase now complete, CPAWS will be looking to the Nova Scotia government to ensure that the most ecologically-significant sites are established as new protected areas. A number of these sites, including Jordan River, Alma Lakes, Lake Torment, Indian Hill, Fisher Lake, Upper Medway, Skull Bog Lake, and Liverpool River, among others, have already been identified as candidates for protection to fulfill the government commitment to protect at least 12% of Nova Scotia’s landmass by 2015. All of these sites should be legally-protecting and the remaining Bowater lands should be assessed to determine which additional areas are in need of protection, with particular focus on the corridor that runs between Alma Lakes and Fisher Lake in Annapolis County, as well as lands near the Old Annapolis Road near St. Margaret’s Bay.
“This is an extraordinary day for Nova Scotia”, adds Miller. “An important resource has been acquired, creating opportunities both for conservation and a sustainable forest industry.”
The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) is a grassroots, non-governmental organization working to protect Canada’s wilderness. Founded nearly 50 years ago, CPAWS has been directly involved in the creation of over two thirds of Canada’s protected areas, both on land and in the ocean. With 20,000 supporters across the country, and 13 regional offices, CPAWS is the leading voice for wilderness protection in Canada.
Chris Miller is the National Conservation Biologist for CPAWS. He has a Ph.D. in biology from the University of Waterloo and a B.Sc. in biology and earth sciences from Dalhousie University. Chris has been working with CPAWS since 2005 on protected area issues in Nova Scotia and across Canada. He is a recent recipient of a Diamond Jubilee medal for his conservation work.
Chris Miller, Ph.D.
National Conservation Biologist
Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society