Posts by Caitlin Grady:
KJIPUKTUK / HALIFAX – The Nova Scotia Chapter of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS-NS) welcomes today’s announcement by the Nova Scotia government that it has applied legal protection to the public lands and waters of Archibald Lake, in Guysborough County.
“Archibald Lake Wilderness Area is an ecological hotspot,” says Chris Miller, Executive Director for CPAWS-NS. “The Nova Scotia government has done the right thing by protecting this very special place. It will be a lasting legacy for future generations. We are delighted by this decision.”
Archibald Lake Wilderness Area occurs within the St. Mary’s River watershed, home to wild populations of Atlantic Salmon, American Eels, Brook Trout, Wood Turtles, Snapping Turtles, and Brook Floaters.
For the past three years, CPAWS-NS has been conducting field surveys in the vicinity of Archibald Lake. In total, 37 rare species have been identified, including seven that are listed under the Endangered Species Act. Some of these species include the endangered Mainland Moose, Blue Felt Lichen, Canada Warbler, Common Nighthawk, Olive-Sided Flycatcher, Black-Saddle Pelt Lichen, and Green Starburst Lichen.
Nearly half of the entire area of the new protected area contains old-forests. This includes drumlins with tolerant hardwood stands and mixed coniferous/deciduous stands in the valleys. Fieldwork undertaken this summer identified trees greater than 200 years of age. Archibald Lake Wilderness Area also contains several patches of genuine old-growth forest, which is rare in Nova Scotia due to industrial impacts.
“I’ve done fieldwork all over Nova Scotia,” says Miller. “Archibald Lake really stands out for the sheer density of conservation values, including the presence of rare and endangered species, old-growth forests, and important wetlands. There’s a lot packed into a fairly small space, and many of the elements of a functioning ecosystem still occur here.”
The CPAWS-NS fieldwork this season focused on Archibald Brook, the river that connects Archibald Lake to the St. Mary’s River. Our aquatic surveys have found Atlantic Salmon, Brook Trout, Gaspereau, American Eels, and Eastern Pearlshell Mussels. The water flowing into the St. Mary’s River from Archibald Lake provides important habitat and ecosystem services for numerous rare species.
“Archibald Brook provides critical thermal refugia for migrating fish, as well as habitat for populations of globally rare freshwater mussels and other species,” says Hunter Stevens, a biologist with CPAWS-NS. “Our snorkel surveys turned up lots of interesting results and confirmed that the aquatic ecosystems of Archibald Brook are hugely significant.”
Archibald Lake Wilderness Area was first proposed for protection way back in 2008 by scientists working on the Colin Stewart Forest Forum, a process to identify lands for protection for the Nova Scotia government. It was subsequently announced as a proposed protected area by the Nova Scotia government in January 2020 and underwent public consultation, but the official designation was delayed for unknown reasons. In December 2022, at the United Nations Biodiversity Conference (COP15) in Montreal, Nova Scotia Minister of Environment Timothy Halman stated that he had directed Departmental staff to bring forward Archibald Lake for final decisions. In May 2023, the Nova Scotia government released the socio-economic study for Archibald Lake Wilderness Area, which is a required step before legal designation can occur. That study found that Archibald Lake contains numerous conservation values, as well as socio-economic benefits for the people of Nova Scotia.
Today’s announcement by the Nova Scotia government means that Archibald Lake Wilderness Area is now officially protected by law. An Order-in-Council was passed by the Executive Council to declare the public lands and waters of the Archibald Lake site to be a designated protected area under the Wilderness Areas Protection Act. Legally designated wilderness areas allow for a wide range of activities, including recreation, hunting, fishing, and camping, but prohibit harmful industrial activities such as clearcuts, open-pit mines, road construction, and pipelines.
A mining company has proposed Archibald Lake as a source of water for a proposed open-pit gold mine at nearby Cochrane Hill. That proposal was under a federal environmental review, until it was terminated by the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada in June 2022. The St. Mary’s River Association has been raising concerns about the potential impacts of gold mining on the river and have led efforts to stop the proposed open-pit gold mine at Cochrane Hill.
“By protecting Archibald Lake, the Nova Scotia government has made a clear decision in support of biodiversity conservation,” says Taylor Creaser, a Conservation Campaigner with CPAWS-NS. “The waters of this important wilderness area provide crucial habitat for species-at-risk downstream, including in the St. Mary’s River. The proposed open-pit gold mine presents an unacceptable ecological risk to the ecosystem, species, and local community.”
CPAWS-NS would like to acknowledge the hard work and dedication of the St. Mary’s River Association for protecting Archibald Lake. They have led the fight at every step of the way, and we congratulate them on their important victory. We also want to acknowledge the efforts undertaken by volunteers to protect Archibald Lake, including citizen scientists who organized several bioblitz events and installed trail cameras and audio recorders to document the presence of rare species. Their work led to the discovery of bats at Archibald Lake, which have suffered steep population declines in Nova Scotia and are listed as endangered.
Protected areas are crucial in the fight against the dual crises of biodiversity loss and the climate emergency. At COP15, new international protected area targets were established to protect 30% of Earth’s land and ocean by 2030.
“The salmon, turtles, moose, lichens, songbirds, and bats of Archibald Lake will all benefit from today’s conservation announcement,” says Miller. “The local community has been very vocal about the need for more conservation. It’s reassuring that the Nova Scotia government has listened to these concerns and has taken the necessary steps to protect this irreplaceable wilderness.”
The Nova Scotia government has a legislated target to protect at least 20% of the provincial landmass by 2030. Last week, the province launched a public consultation for the Protected Areas Strategy that runs until October 6th. Currently, about 13% of Nova Scotia’s provincial landmass is protected.
Archibald Lake Wilderness Area is about 684 hectares in size and includes four lakes; Archibald, Rocky, McDonald, and Little.
High resolution photos and videos of Archibald Lake available upon request
Greetings, friends of CPAWS!
My name is Madie Stewart and I’ll be working as a Conservation Campaigner for the Nova Scotia Chapter! I’m excited to be a part of this amazing team to explore the remote corners of our province and help protect these amazing natural spaces.
I can still remember the first time I fell in love with the ocean, but it might not be what you would expect. When I was about seven years old, my family took a trip to Disney World, and one of the attractions we visited was a shipwrecked-themed aquarium that you could snorkel in. As soon as I gazed into the water with my mask and snorkel, I was absolutely enthralled. There were hundreds of fish, mounds of coral, and sharks all around me. I ended up begging my parents to let me do the attraction again, which they did, and so I went in again… seven more times. To this day, I still vividly remember that experience and how I felt being underwater, and I still get that feeling every time I am in the ocean.
Growing up in Ottawa, I spent a lot of time exploring the outdoors, from family camping trips in Gatineau Park, kayaking or canoeing on the Ottawa River, catching bugs in my backyard, and swimming in any body of water that I could find. I also learned a lot about nature from my father, who was a high school science teacher with a degree in marine biology, as he showed me how to use a microscope, brought me along to collect pond water samples for his classes, and set up fun experiments or science activities at home. This is one of the main reasons that I decided to pursue a career in the natural sciences.
Although I grew up in Ottawa, Ontario, I spent my summers in Nova Scotia, and it became my second home. It was also the place that I first saw the ocean, so it will always hold a special place in my heart. In 2013, I moved to Halifax to start my undergraduate degree in marine biology at Dalhousie University and I immediately loved living the seaside life. I took up coastal hobbies, such as surfing and hiking, and took part in as many field courses as I could during my studies, which allowed me to experience first-hand the habitats in and around the water.
After graduation, I was accepted to the ISATEC – International Studies of Aquatic Tropical Ecology master’s program (it’s a mouthful, I know) at the University of Bremen in Germany. For my master’s thesis, I worked in Fiji for three months, where I lived in a traditional coastal village on the Coral Coast of Fiji’s main island. I conducted field surveys using snorkeling to collect data on the effects of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) on territorial damselfish (Stegastes spp.) communities on the fringing reefs. The pace of life in Fiji was totally different than what I was used to, but it allowed me to slow down and appreciate the smaller things, as well as have gratitude for Mother Earth and what she provides, and I continue to try to channel this mindset in all that I do.
Coral restoration on the fringing reefs in Votua Village (Photo: Reef Explorer Fiji).
Working for CPAWS is a dream come true, and I’m so lucky to have a job that allows me to spend time outdoors and experience the variety of habitats that Nova Scotia has to offer. I can’t wait to dive in and share my findings with you all!
KJIPUKTUK / HALIFAX – Sackville River Wilderness Area is now protected!!
The Nova Scotia government announced today that it has completed the legal designation process for public lands in the Upper Sackville and Beaver Bank area.
Sackville River Wilderness Area was included in the 2013 Nova Scotia Our Parks and Protected Areas Plan. It has gone through several rounds of public consultation, including most recently in spring 2021. In total, 800 hectares of public land are now legally-protected.
“Today is a day to celebrate,” says Chris Miller, Executive Director of the Nova Scotia Chapter of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS-NS). “The communities of Upper Sackville and Beaver Bank have been waiting a long time for this new protected area to happen. We are so happy that it is finally done and that this important natural area is now officially established as a legally-designated wilderness area.”
Congratulations to the Sackville Rivers Association (SRA), who have worked so hard to protect these public lands going back more than a decade. We especially want to thank Walter Regan, the founder and past-president of SRA, for his long-time advocacy and dedication to conserving these lands.
Sackville River Wilderness Area protects numerous important ecosystems, including large intact landscapes, old-growth hardwood forests, important headwater lakes, frontage on the Sackville River, significant wetlands, a key wildlife corridor, and species-at-risk habitat for Atlantic salmon, snapping turtles, and common nighthawk. It also forms the northern boundary of the Halifax Greenbelt.
The area is popular for outdoor recreation, including hiking, fishing, hunting, biking, cross-country skiing, and swimming. Located adjacent to the protected area is the Girl Guides Camp at Lewis Lake. With the protected area designation now complete, all of these activities can continue without any interruption. The protected area prohibits industrial disturbances that are incompatible with conservation objectives, such as clearcutting, open-pit mining, or building new roads. The protected area designation also means that a planned clearcut near Hawkin Hall Lake has now been permanently terminated.
Through the designation process, the protected area boundary for Sackville River Wilderness Area has increased in size from 631 hectares to 800 hectares. The protected area was expanded to include additional public lands on the eastern side of the wilderness area. In 2020, CPAWS-NS conducted a boundary assessment of Sackville River Wilderness Area and recommended to the Nova Scotia government an expansion to the protected area boundary at this location to better protect floodplain forests, vernal pools, wetlands, and recreational opportunities, among other conservation values. It also brings the entirety of Hawkin Hall Lake into the protected area boundary.
“We welcome the expanded protected area boundary,” says Miller. “This is consistent with the CPAWS-NS recommendation to better protect key conservation features on the eastern side of the protected area.”
The protection of the Sackville River site was initially proposed as a nature reserve, but was changed by the Nova Scotia government to a wilderness area designation in response to local feedback and recommendations from SRA and CPAWS-NS.
Also included in today’s announcement are 6 new nature reserves and 7 expanded wilderness areas. These include:
- Barneys River Nature Reserve
- Big Meadow Brook Nature Reserve
- Cherry Hill Beach Nature Reserve
- Glendyer Nature Reserve
- Les Caps Nature Reserve
- Porcupine Brook Nature Reserve
- Eastern Shore Islands Wilderness Area expansion
- Economy River Wilderness Area expansion
- Eigg Mountain – James River Wilderness Area expansion
- Medway Lakes Wilderness Area expansion
- Middle River – Framboise Wilderness Area expansion
- Portapique River Wilderness Area expansion
- Wentworth Valley Wilderness Area expansion
Collectively, these sites include large intact forests, coastal beaches and islands, significant wetlands and waterways, and species-at-risk habitat.
The Nova Scotia government is also providing $20 million in new funding for the “Nova Scotia Crown Share Land Legacy Fund”, which will help with private land conservation by providing matching funding for land trusts.
The United Nations Biodiversity Conference COP15 is currently underway in Montreal. A total of 195 countries are negotiating a new international conservation agreement, which will include higher protected area targets. The Earth is facing an ecological catastrophe with the dual crises of the climate emergency and collapse of biodiversity. Negotiators in Montreal have until December 19th to reach a final agreement.
“I’m pleased that the Nova Scotia government finalized this latest batch of new protected areas in time for the COP15 conference,” says Miller, who is attending the COP15 negotiations. “It helps build momentum for reaching a final agreement and demonstrates that protected area establishment is a key strategy to halt and reverse the decline of biodiversity.”
Last year, the Nova Scotia government committed to legally-protecting at least 20% of the provincial landmass by 2030 and enshrined this new target in law. They also committed to fully implementing all of the remaining undesignated sites within the 2013 Nova Scotia Our Parks and Protected Areas Plan and included this commitment within the Ministerial Mandate Letters for the Department of Environment and Climate Change and the Department of Natural Resources and Renewables.
CPAWS-NS looks forward to the next batch of new protected areas within the near future.
High resolution photos available
My name is Hunter and I am thrilled to be coming onboard the CPAWS-NS team as a Marine Specialist.
It may come as somewhat of a surprise, but I grew up in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. How does one go from one of the most landlocked places in the world to an expert in marine life? Let me tell you!
A bit of background: While it may be far from the ocean, Saskatchewan is far from high and dry. In fact, within Saskatchewan’s provincial boundaries are over one million lakes. Two arteries, the North and South Saskatchewan rivers, flow down from the Albertan Rocky Mountains. This water and fertile glacial sediments is what make Saskatchewan such an effective agricultural producer.
All of this to say that Saskatchewan is covered in wetland; wetland that I, in my youth, spent plenty of time exploring. Some of my earliest memories are of catching frogs with my dad during our summers at Emerald Lake. It fascinated me that so much life was teeming just under the surface of these ponds and lakes, so close, but still out of reach. Pictures weren’t enough — I had to see it with my own eyes.
In 2013, I had the privilege of visiting the island of Maui, Hawaii, with my family. It was here that I first obtained my SCUBA certification and learned to snorkel in the playful waters of the south shore. The colourful diversity that I encountered here lingered in my thoughts for years. Once I finished high school in 2015, I enrolled at the University of Saskatchewan. During my studies, I got involved with a project using acoustic telemetry to study the Bigmouth Buffalo — a large, herbivorous carp-like fish native to southern Saskatchewan and parts of the United States.
I finished my undergraduate degree as the president of the University’s Biology Club, and with the fantastical seascapes of Hawaii still vivid in my mind, I set my sights seaward. I was lucky enough to snag a position with Dr. Glenn Crossin at Dalhousie University on a project involving acoustic telemetry and Atlantic salmon. The irony of this was not lost on me: Here I was in my little river system, packing up all I owned and swi- (ahem) driving across the country and out to sea.
This brings us to the present. I finished my Master’s degree in August of 2021 and since then have taught Invertebrate Biology and Scientific Diving Methods in Ecology at Dalhousie University. I have spent the majority of my free time since moving to Halifax exploring our coasts. The diversity of life to be found here is astounding, and I do all I can to share it with others.
Saskatchewan’s wetlands and Nova Scotia’s watersheds share something in common: they are in danger of or are actively being degraded by human activity. I intend to use my education and skillset to do all I can to preserve these biological jewels for generations to come, in the hope that nature might inspire more students like me. CPAWS Nova Scotia shares the same goal, and together I believe we are a real force for conservation in this country.
I can’t wait to share our projects with you all, and if you ever have any questions about strange critters you’ve seen on land or at sea, please don’t hesitate to send me a message at firstname.lastname@example.org!
If you were to head out east across the Atlantic, eventually – over 100 km off the coast of Nova Scotia – you’d find yourself on the edge of the Scotian Shelf. Here the seafloor drops steeply to depths greater than that of the Grand Canyon, via channels cut into the seafloor that vary from narrow cuts to meandering valleys. Formed a long time ago by glaciers, these submarine canyons are home to a variety of benthic communities and create biological hotspots in the deep sea.
So, what lives in these canyons? Well, a keystone species in canyon ecosystems are cold-water corals, such as the bubblegum coral pictured below, that grow on hard surfaces at the bottom and on the walls of the canyons. They’re not plants, they’re animals too, but they spend their long adult lives attached to the sea floor providing important habitats for many other species. These canyons are also home to a host of other unique and astonishing creatures, such as sea pens, anemones, squid, octopus, and deep sea fish species. And this diversity isn’t only at the bottom – the surface currents attract all sizes of fish, as well as seabirds, and whales and dolphins. The endangered Northern bottlenose whale can be found year-round in these canyons, they travel from surface waters to the deepest parts of the canyon for food, spending up to an hour underwater and diving down to 1,500 metres.
There’s still a lot we don’t know about these submarine canyons – undiscovered species, unknown behaviours and occurrences, and many other mysteries of the deep – but what we do know is that these ecosystems are at risk from human threats. Climate change, harmful fishing practises, vessel collisions, entanglements, noise, and debris are just a few of the threats to canyon ecosystems, particularly given the slow growth and reproductive rates of many of these species.
Now is the time to act. We need more research to better understand the risks of human activities; reductions to ship speeds to avoid collisions; policies on pollution and dumping; prohibitions on offshore oil and gas activities; and stricter fisheries management measures. But perhaps one of the most effective tools for protecting biodiversity hotspots are marine protected areas (MPAs), clearly defined space dedicated and managed to achieve long-term nature conservation.
In 2004, the Gully became Canada’s first Oceans Act MPA to be designated in the Atlantic Ocean. At 40km in length and 15km in width, it’s the largest submarine canyon off eastern North America and is home to a resident population of endangered Northern bottlenose whales. As an MPA the Gully has a zone that is closed to all fishing activities to protect vulnerable ecosystems.
Earlier this year, the Eastern Canyons Conservation Area was established to protect additional canyon ecosystems from commercial bottom-contact fishing gear. The Gully MPA and Eastern Canyons Conservation Area are important sites for conservation, but they are not the only ones – there are other sites awaiting protection, and plenty of other canyons and sensitive offshore habitats all along the Scotian Shelf. By expanding our network of protected areas we can ensure long term biodiversity conservation of offshore ecosystems, but also support connectivity between populations and long term resiliency to climate change and human disturbance.
This year, CPAWS-NS and partners hosted canyon celebration events around Nova Scotia, to spread the word about these unique ecosystems and the need for conservation. The response from the event attendees was clear – Canadian’s care about deep sea canyons and want to see them protected.
Look out for more celebration events next summer!
Hi, I’m Camille, a summer Conservation Assistant at CPAWS-NS. From a young age, I’ve always known I was interested in humanitarian and environmental causes and solutions. After taking a class at Dalhousie on non-profits and helping to launch the Evercare Foundation, an organization which aids humanitarian causes through specialized healthcare, I knew that working in the NGO sector could be for me. I’m elated to spend the summer at CPAWS-NS to grow, learn, and make a difference.
I have moved around a lot in life, but the ocean was always there. Exploring all the delicate ecosystems of the sea has a special place in my heart and has made me realize the importance of protecting it for the next generation to enjoy and learn. My love for the ocean fuels my passion for learning and understanding aquatic systems.
We rely on ecosystem services from the ocean to live our everyday lives, yet many species play hidden but influential roles. Algae, or seaweeds, is one such species that helps in various ways. Algae has always interested me because it plays an important role in the ocean but is often overlooked. Macroalgae provide habitats, whilst microalgae are at the centre of crucial aquatic nutrient cycles. Without them, the earth would lose half of its oxygen production.
Check out these diatoms, they’re strangely beautiful and play an important role in the marine environment. Diatoms are a microalgae that live in freshwater habitats, oceans, and soil. Their major presence means they play a significant role in global nitrogen cycles, carbon cycles, and are major contributors to sediments. Diatoms are responsible for a significant amount of oxygen production from the ocean and are the base of many food webs.
Another interesting thing about seaweed is that you may be eating it and not even know it! Agar, an extract, is used as a thickening, suspending and stabilizing agent in food. It is extracted from red alga, Gracilaria and Gelidium. It is handy because it can be reshaped after repeatedly reheating, while gelatin cannot.
Carrageenan, an extract, is also used to stabilize foods, from eggnog to salad dressing to ice cream. It is what keeps the chocolate mixed in chocolate milk and resists crystallization in the freezer. It is extracted from red alga such as Chondrus, Irish Moss, that grows here in the Maritime provinces.
Take a look at your pantry or in the supermarket, see if you can find Agar or Carrageenan in the ingredients list for your favourite foods!
I’m excited to explore and learn more of the ocean this summer with CPAWS. Nova Scotia is a beautiful place with many areas that must be studied and protected. I want to get to know more local organisms, work hard to protect them, teach others about the significance of conservation, and maintain healthy marine environments.
Le 14 juin 2022, MI’KMA’KI – Owls Head est sur le point de recevoir une protection juridique en tant que parc provincial!
La section de la Nouvelle-Écosse de la Société pour la nature et les parcs du Canada (SNAP N.‑É.) se réjouit de l’annonce faite aujourd’hui par le gouvernement de la province.
« C’est la meilleure issue possible pour Owls Head », déclare Chris Miller, directeur général de la SNAP N.‑É. « Cette mesure corrige une erreur en assurant une protection pour la faune et les écosystèmes côtiers. Elle garantit que cet endroit exceptionnel restera une propriété publique. »
Owls Head est situé le long de la côte est de la Nouvelle-Écosse. L’idée d’en faire un parc provincial fait l’objet de discussions depuis les années 1970, mais ce lieu n’avait pas reçu de protection juridique permanente jusqu’à présent.
En 2019, le gouvernement de la Nouvelle-Écosse a discrètement retiré le parc d’une liste d’aires protégées et a tenté de vendre les terres publiques côtières à un promoteur privé pour l’aménagement d’un terrain de golf. La mise au jour de ces négociations secrètes avait suscité un tollé au sein du public, et un mouvement populaire s’était organisé dans toute la Nouvelle-Écosse pour bloquer la vente et protéger le parc.
« Le premier ministre Tim Houston a pris la bonne décision pour sauver Owls Head, déclare M. Miller. Il a respecté ses promesses, et nous sommes ravis de savoir que ces terres publiques recevront bientôt une protection juridique en vertu de la loi sur les parcs provinciaux. »
Le parc provincial Owls Head a une superficie de 266 hectares. Il s’agit d’un lieu d’importance sur le plan écologique, puisqu’il contient d’importants écosystèmes côtiers, notamment des promontoires, des lagunes, des landes, des herbiers de zostères, des marais salés, des tourbières côtières, des étangs, des îles et une forêt pluviale tempérée. Il abrite une communauté végétale rare au niveau mondial ainsi que l’habitat de plusieurs espèces en péril, dont le pluvier siffleur et l’hirondelle rustique.
Une expédition en kayak de mer organisée par la SNAP N.‑É. à Owls Head en juillet 2021 a permis d’observer une tortue luth, une espèce en voie de disparition, se nourrissant dans les eaux littorales, à la pointe d’Owls Head.
Le gouvernement de la Nouvelle-Écosse a récemment rehaussé son objectif en matière d’aires protégées, en le faisant passer à « au moins » 20 % d’ici 2030. Le gouvernement provincial a également promis de mettre pleinement en œuvre son plan Our Parks and Protected Areas (Nos parcs et aires protégées), qui comprend une longue liste de sites en attente de protection juridique.
« Nous espérons que d’autres aires protégées seront créées très bientôt, ajoute M. Miller. L’atteinte de cet objectif de 20 % d’aires protégées est une étape essentielle dans la lutte contre la double menace que représentent les changements climatiques et la perte de biodiversité. »
La SNAP N.‑É. félicite les nombreuses personnes qui ont travaillé avec détermination pour la protection d’Owls Head. Leur effort collectif a contribué à sauver ces terres côtières du développement, et nous sommes très heureux de cette victoire pour la conservation.
June 14, 2022, MI’KMA’KI – Owls Head will receive legal protection as a provincial park!!
The Nova Scotia Chapter of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS-NS) welcomes today’s announcement by the Nova Scotia government.
“This is the best possible outcome for Owls Head,” says Chris Miller, Executive Director. “It corrects the wrong. It ensures that the coastal ecosystems and wildlife will be protected. It guarantees that this very special place will remain in public ownership.”
Owls Head is located along the Eastern Shore of Nova Scotia. It has been proposed as a provincial park since the 1970’s but has never received permanent legal protection until now.
In 2019, the Nova Scotia government secretly delisted the park from a list of protected areas and attempted to sell-off the coastal public lands to a private developer for a golf course development. When the public learned of the backroom land deal, a huge backlash ensued and people from all across Nova Scotia organized to stop the sale and protect the park.
“Premier Tim Houston has made the correct decision to save Owls Head,” says Miller. “He has followed through on the promises he has made and we are very grateful that these public lands will soon receive legal protection under the Provincial Parks Act.”
Owls Head Provincial Park is 266 hectares in size. It is an ecological hotspot that contains important coastal ecosystems, including headlands, lagoons, barrens, eel grass beds, salt marshes, coastal peatlands, ponds, islands, and temperate rainforest. It supports a globally rare plant community, and habitat for several species-at-risk, including piping plovers and barn swallows.
A CPAWS-NS sea kayak expedition to Owls Head in July 2021 resulted in an important observation of an Endangered Leatherback Sea Turtle feeding in the nearshore waters right at the headland of Owls Head.
The Nova Scotia government has recently increased the protected areas target to “at least” 20 percent by 2030. The government has also promised to fully implement the Nova Scotia Our Parks and Protected Areas Plan, which includes a long list of backlogged sites still awaiting legal protection.
“We look forward to more protected areas being established very soon,” says Miller. “Achieving the twenty percent protected areas target is a critical step in fighting the dual emergences of climate change and biodiversity loss.”
CPAWS-NS congratulates everyone who worked so hard to protect Owls Head. It was a collective effort by many people to save these coastal lands from development and we are so happy with this conservation outcome.
June 9, 2022 , K’JIPUKTUK/HALIFAX – The Nova Scotia Chapter of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS-NS) welcomes the creation of Eastern Canyons Marine Refuge off the coast of Nova Scotia. This new marine conservation area is 43,976 km² in size and will help protect vulnerable deep-sea ecosystems.
“Eastern Canyons Marine Refuge will protect cold-water corals and sponges, bottlenose whales, and a large area of deep-sea habitat,” says Reanne Harvey, Conservation Campaigner at CPAWS-NS. “It provides an important addition to the network of conservation areas protecting these sensitive species and habitats.”
The site will prohibit all commercial bottom-contact fisheries, with the exception of a small management zone for longline gear. This will help to protect slow-growing fragile corals that provide important habitat for fish and other marine life.
The area protected includes the only known living Lophelia pertusa coral reef in Canada’s Atlantic waters. These reefs are known to be hotspots for biodiversity.
Eastern Canyons Marine Refuge was first identified in 2018 through the conservation network planning process for the Scotian Shelf – Bay of Fundy bioregion. Negotiations have been underway over the past few years to finalize the conservation designation.
CPAWS-NS would like to acknowledge the important work undertaken by government, Indigenous communities, the fishing industry, conservation organizations, and academics.
“The official establishment of Eastern Canyons Marine Refuge is an important milestone for achieving marine conservation targets in Maritimes Region,” says Chris Miller, Executive Director for CPAWS-NS. “It’s a big step in the right direction for the full implementation of the Marine Protected Area Network Design”.
Canada has agreed to protect 25% of the ocean by 2025, and 30% by 2030. The establishment of Eastern Canyons Marine Refuge alone increases protection in Canada by almost 1%.
More information on the Eastern Canyons Marine Refuge can be found on the Department of Fisheries and Oceans website.
Photo credit: Fisheries and Oceans Canada