Nova Scotia makes significant progress creating new protected areas

HALIFAX – The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) welcomes today’s announcement by the Nova Scotia government that it has created 65 new parks and protected areas.

“This is a significant day for conservation”, says Chris Miller, National Conservation Biologist for CPAWS. “As a Nova Scotian, I’m very pleased that these amazing wilderness areas will be protected for future generations.”

Included in today’s announcement are some of the best remaining natural areas in the province, including a long stretch of wilderness coastline at Capelin Cove in Cape Breton, old-growth Acadian forests near Tracadie River near Antigonish, and a vast network of lakes and rivers at Medway Lakes in southwestern Nova Scotia.

“The new protected areas include large intact forests, rugged coastlines, rich floodplains, significant wetlands, important waterways, and rare species habitat,” says Miller. “These are some of the best remaining sites on public lands in the province”.

Miller was one of the scientific experts who worked collaboratively with the Nova Scotia government selecting specific sites for conservation.

Other standout sites contained in the announcement include Kellys Mountain in Cape Breton, the rugged granite landscape at Rogues Roost on the Chebucto Peninsula, and frontage on significant waterways, including Liscomb River, Silver River, Margaree River, and Roseway River.

With the creation of these new protected areas, a total of 12.26% of the provincial landmass is now legally-protected.  That’s sufficient to move Nova Scotia from its current position of 7th place in Canada for total percentage of land protected to a ranking of third place, behind only British Columbia and Alberta.  The current national target for the establishment of protected areas in Canada is 17%.

“Nova Scotia has certainly made good progress in recent years increasing the amount of public lands dedicated toward conservation,” says Miller. “This progress has been made despite the overall lack of public lands in the province compared to other jurisdictions in Canada.”

Only about a third of the landmass of Nova Scotia is publicly-owned.

The new protected areas announced today are the result of the continued implementation of the Nova Scotia Parks and Protected Areas Plan, which was finalized in August 2013.  Today’s announcement represents the third batch of new protected areas from this plan. The first batch was completed in December 2014 and contained 20 sites, while the second batch was completed in June 2015 and contained 22 sites.

More work is required by the Nova Scotia government to fully implement the Parks and Protected Areas Plan.  To date, roughly two-thirds of the plan by area has been successfully implemented, leaving about 80,000 hectares of land still to be protected.

“CPAWS looks forward to working collaboratively with the Nova Scotia government as it works to finalize the legal designations of the remaining outstanding sites,” says Miller.

The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society is a non-government organization working to protect public lands and waters in Canada.

To view a map of the new protected areas (red circles), click here.

For more information on the Nova Scotia Parks and Protected Areas Plan, click here.

Background and timeline

In 2007, the Nova Scotia government passed the Environmental Goals and Sustainable Prosperity Act to expand the amount of protected areas in the province.

Environmental groups and forest companies successfully completed the Colin Stewart Forest Forum negotiations in 2009, identifying agreed-upon high priority sites for conservation, and jointly submitting their proposal to government.

The Nova Scotia government incorporated the vast majority of those joint suggestions into its own protected areas planning process, rolling out its own proposal in 2011. That initiated several rounds of public and stakeholder consultations over a period of two years, culminating in the approval of the final Park and Protected Areas Plan, which was released publicly in August 2013.

Since then, the Nova Scotia government has been undertaking the necessary land surveying and legal property descriptions to make the pending protected areas official.

Today’s announcement represents the largest batch of new protected areas established to date stemming from the implementation of the Parks and Protected Areas Plan.

Approximately two-thirds of the Parks and Protected Areas Plan has now been official implemented.

Specific sites

Tracadie River Wilderness Area
2,526 hectares
• Old-growth hardwood forest

Rogues Roost Wilderness Area
1,130 hectares
• 18km of rugged, granite-dominated coastline
• overwintering habitat for the endangered Harlequin duck
• Tremendous hiking and sea kayaking opportunities
• Natural landmark (Rogues Roost)

Liscomb River Wilderness Area
3,357 hectares
• 35km of river frontage
• One of the few rivers in NS that can be protected from ocean to headwater.

Dunraven Bog Nature Reserve
3,464 hectares
• Large, ecologically significant wetland complex
• Supports several rare plants, including nationally threatened “golden crest” and national special concern “Long’s bulrush”

Fourchu Coast Wilderness Area
4,811 hectares
• 20km of rugged coastline
• Includes diverse coastal ecosystems, including entire beaches, headlands, and estuaries.
• Important backbarrier tidal salt marsh ecosystem
• Known habitat for rare plant species, including New Jersey Rush

Kluscap Wilderness Area
2,777 hectares
• Natural landmark (Kellys Mountain)
• Coastal features
• Old forest in ravines

Medway Lakes Wilderness Area
19,655 hectares
• Large system of interconnected lakes, rivers, and forests
• Pockets of old-growth Acadian forests
• Tremendous recreational potential

Chris Miller, Ph.D.
National Conservation Biologist
Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society