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Nova Scotia proposes largest new protected area in over a decade

HALIFAX - The Nova Scotia government has just released the proposed boundary for a protected wilderness area at Chignecto.  A total of 25,320 hectares of public land is proposed for protection, covering about three quarters of the lands under evaluation.  The province is proposing two protected wilderness areas be established; one for the vast interior forests of Chignecto (Kelley River Wilderness Area) and the other for the coastline along the Bay of Fundy (Raven Head Wilderness Area).  Together, this will be the largest new protected area established in Nova Scotia in over a decade.

"This is an important step for the protection of forests at Chignecto", says Chris Miller, the National Conservation Biologist for CPAWS, based in Halifax.  "It brings us much closer to protecting one of the most ecologically-significant areas of the province".

Chignecto contains some of the largest remaining tracts of intact forests in Nova Scotia.  A report released by Global Forest Watch Canada last year shows that only 17% of Nova Scotia's forests remain in an intact condition, in tracts larger than 500 hectares in size.  That's one of the lowest percentages of any province in Canada.  The proposed candidate protected area boundary recommends protection of the vast majority of the intact forests at Chignecto.

The coastline of Chignecto is also significant.  Proposed for protection are all of the public lands on the shores of the Bay of Fundy between Apple Head and Shulie, an area containing almost 40km of rugged wilderness coastline and important tidal salt marsh habitat.  Chignecto is home to a number of species-at-risk, including one of the last strongholds for the endangered mainland moose and an important population of wood turtle.

"Chignecto is an ecological hotspot", says Miller.  "It contains vast tracts of intact forests that stretch all the way from the shores of the Bay of Fundy to the Cobequids.  It's home to a wide variety of wildlife, including the endangered mainland moose.  Today's announcement is an important signal that the Nova Scotia government intends on protecting the forests of Chignecto."

CPAWS has been working with our partners to protect Chignecto for many years and has previously called on the Nova Scotia government to designate the significant majority of the public lands at Chignecto as a legally-protected wilderness area.  We want to applaud the efforts of the hard-working folks at Cumberland Wilderness, who have been leading the charge in the community to protect Chignecto.

CPAWS has undertaken original field research within Chignecto to identify important conservation values and we've documented ecosystems in every corner of the remote wilderness.

Back in 2004, the Nova Scotia government proposed de-listing Chignecto as a game sanctuary and there was much public backlash against that proposal.  The public was loud and clear in demanding stronger legal protections for provincial game sanctuaries, not less.  A wilderness area designation for Chignecto would prohibit industrial activities such as clearcutting, open-pit mining, and seismic testing, while allowing for continued public use of these important lands.  A game sanctuary designation provides no protection from industrial activities.

The release of the candidate boundary for Chignecto kick starts another round of public consultation.  The Nova Scotia government will be receiving feedback until August 12th.

To view a map of the proposed protected wilderness areas, click here.

For more information:
Chris Miller, Ph.D.