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A big step forward for more protected areas in Nova Scotia

HALIFAX - The Nova Scotia government announced today that it is moving ahread with expanding the provincial system of protected areas, to achieve a legislated commitment of protecting 12% of Nova Scotia's landmass by the year 2015. Currently, about 8.6% of Nova Scotia is considered legally-protected, leaving about 200,000 hectares of land in need of protection to achieve the provincial target. By comparison, neighboring jurisdictions of New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island are currently 3.1% and 2.6% protected, respectfully.

"Today is an important day for conservation in Nova Scotia", says Chris Miller, National Conservation Biologist for the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS), based in Halifax. "Many of the best remaining wilderness sites in the province will be protected as a result of the government commitment".

CPAWS has long advocated for the creation of many new protected areas in Nova Scotia, to protect our dwindling forests and important coastline. A recent study by Global Forest Watch Canada has shown that over a half million hectares of forest have been clearcut in Nova Scotia in the past decade and that less than 17% of Nova Scotia's forests remain in patches larger than 500 hectares in size. Establishing significant new protected areas is a way to ensure that the best remaining wilderness sites are permanently protected from the impacts of industrial activities.

"The Nova Scotia government is to be congratulated for its committment to protecting wilderness", says Miller. "As a province, we have made significant strides in recent years at expanding our system of protected areas."

The Nova Scotia government has kick-started a round of public and stakeholder consultations to comment on the proposed expansion of the protected areas system. Through that process, areas identified as potential candidates for protection will be refined and eventually designated.

For a map of areas with high-conservation value from which protected areas will be selected, click here