Nova Scotia releases final protected areas plan

HALIFAX – The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) welcomes today’s announcement by the Nova Scotia government that it will protect huge swaths of the province for conservation.  In total, approximately a quarter million hectares of land will be added to the parks an protected areas system in Nova Scotia.

“Nova Scotia is emerging as a leader in Canada for the protection of wilderness,” says Chris Miller, National Conservation Biologist for CPAWS. “Great progress is being made protecting the most ecologically significant areas of the province, including important coastal areas, large intact forests, and rare species habitat”.

Today’s announcement saw the official release of the final protected areas plan for Nova Scotia.  It concludes a multi-year process to identify lands for protection, involving several rounds of public and stakeholder consultations.

With the new protected areas now in place, the total percentage of protected lands in the province will rise from the current level of 9.4% protection to 13% right away, and then to approximately 14% over the next few years as new protected sites are added.

“The Nova Scotia government is to be congratulated for its ambitious plan to protect Nova Scotia’s wilderness,” says Miller.  “Not only are the correct sites being protected, but the process to identify these areas, and to engage the public and stakeholders in these discussions, has been top-notch.”

Just last month, CPAWS released its National Report examining the status of parks and protected areas in Canada for 2013.  Although there was an overall slowdown in park creation across the country, Nova Scotia was singled out as one jurisdiction that was “bucking” the national trend and actually taking big steps to protect natural areas.

With the new protected areas, Nova Scotia rises from the middle-of-the-pack in Canada for the total percentage of land protected to second place, behind only British Columbia.  Nova Scotia will also be well ahead of neighbouring jurisdictions in Atlantic Canada.  Newfoundland and Labrador has 4.5% protection; New Brunswick 3% protection; and Prince Edward Island 2.5% protection.

In total, an additional 700 kilometres of Nova Scotia’s coastline will be protected as a result of the new protected areas, as well as approximately 2600 lakes and rivers.  The new protected areas will also result in about half of all remaining large intact forests in Nova Scotia being protected.

Over one hundred new protected areas will be established, bringing the total number of protected areas in the province to 84 protected wilderness areas, 138 nature reserves, and 205 provincial parks.  In addition to creating new protected areas, the plan also includes expanding many existing protected wilderness areas, including Blue Mountain – Birch Cove Lakes near Halifax and the Tobeatic Wilderness Area in the southwest.

The final protected areas plan for Nova Scotia includes the significant majority of sites that CPAWS was recommending for protection Humes River, French River, Kelley’s Mountain, Ingonish Valley, Fourchu coastline, Margaree Valley, Mabou Highlands, St. Mary’s River, Port Bickerton Beach, Liscomb River, Eastern Shore Islands, Chignecto Isthmus, Blue Mountain – Birch Cove Lakes, Tobeatic Additions, Shingle Lake, Walton River, Nictaux, Medway Lakes, Tusket River, Economy River, and Rogues Roost, among many others.

CPAWS would like to take this opportunity to thank the thousands of Nova Scotians who participated in the public consultations and who have been pushing for more protected areas for many, many years.  Today’s announcement would not have been possible without the dedicated involvement of these volunteer community groups scattered across the province.  Thank you.

High-resolution photographs of the new protected areas are available

Additional information
Nova Scotia government release
CPAWS Parks Report 2013
Final Nova Scotia protected areas plan
Interactive map

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