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Nature Trust saves new Urban Wildlands in Halifax

The Nova Scotia Nature Trust announced new urban wildlands today, preserving over 300 acres of lakes, river, wetlands and coastal barrens. The conservation lands, on the Pennant River near Sambro, adjoin the Terence Bay Wilderness Area and include “the Brook,” a treasured swimming hole and hiking trail just 30 minutes from downtown Halifax. The lands were donated anonymously, entrusted to the Nature Trust as an urban refuge for nature and for people.

An enthusiastic crowd gathered at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic in Halifax for the Nature Trust’s announcement.

Nature Trust Executive Director, Bonnie Sutherland, announced the new protected areas, noting, “Protection of the Pennant River Conservation Lands, generously donated to the Nature Trust, is an exciting achievement for biodiversity conservation. And a big win for urban greenspace too!”

The conservation lands protect a natural corridor that extends from near the coast at Pennant Cove, along both sides of the Pennant River, through a series of inland freshwater lakes, streams, bogs, wetlands and forests and back to the sea at Sambro Basin. They protect an important migratory corridor for fish, moving between spawning and feeding grounds, and for birds and other wildlife who use river corridors as an essential travel route. Every spring, Blue herons gather by the dozens at the river mouth to feed on the migrating gaspereau. Endangered American eels make their way up the river on a similar journey.

The mossy forests and wetlands provide important habitat for several species of birds on Canada’s endangered species list such as Olive-sided Flycatcher, Canada Warbler, and Rusty Blackbird. They shelter diversity of ferns, and delicate forest plants, lichens and mosses—potentially rare species. And they are home to a diversity of amphibians from frogs to salamanders. The protected area even offers potential habitat for the small local population of endangered mainland moose.

The Nature Trust described the conservation win as exciting news for nature, and for people too. The Pennant River Conservation Lands include a treasured spot that many people know and love, known as “the brook.” The river hosts a series of lovely swimming holes and rapids, hiking trails, and excellent fishing pools as well—a place that has been enjoyed by generations and locals and visitors alike.

Like so many special places in Nova Scotia, people thought this was public land. Most took it for granted that it would always be there to enjoy. But it was private land, like over 70% of Nova Scotia. And like all privately-owned lands, it was at risk of development.

Fortunately, the lands were in the hands of some very special people, who understood that this is truly a unique place. The landowners have fond memories of the land, a place they would go to unwind and escape from the stresses and pace of everyday life. It was a place they found peace and tranquility, a place they take their children and now grandchildren, to connect with nature and to connect with each other.

Today, the Nature Trust announced that this family, who wish to remain anonymous, has now graciously entrusted this very special place to the Nova Scotia Nature Trust. They wish this beautiful wild treasure be left intact for nature to thrive, and for people to enjoy.

What an incredible legacy they leave—the gift of nature–for generations to come.

The new conservation lands add to growing Halifax lands protected by the Nature Trust including the Purcell’s Cove Conservation lands in the Halifax Backlands, Troop Island, Rogues Roost and the 100 Wild Islands.

This conservation win makes exciting advances in national, provincial and municipal commitments to biodiversity conservation. The Government of Canada has joined international efforts to preserve the planet’s biodiversity, including an ambitious commitment to protect 17% of Canada’s terrestrial areas 2020. Nova Scotia has committed to preserve at least 13% of Nova Scotia as protected areas by the end of this year, and is passing our province’s first biodiversity act. Just yesterday, Halifax approved the Green Network plan and reinforced its commitment to protecting urban biodiversity and greenspace.

Today’s announcement is an excellent example of the creative way Canadians and community organizations like the Nature Trust can make a difference in protecting biodiversity.

Sutherland noted, “With over 70% of Nova Scotia privately owned (and 13% of our small Crown land base proposed for protection by the end of this year), future biodiversity conservation gains in NS will depend on preserving nature on private lands. The Nature Trust will be a critical partner in meeting national, provincial and local biodiversity targets.”

In Nova Scotia, and across the country, urban wildlands are particularly threatened.

“If we don’t take action now, our urban wildlands will be lost. Fresh air, clean water, the cooling trees and soothing birdsongs that make the city liveable and healthy will be lost. Special places to hike and paddle, fish and swim close to home, place to keep us active and healthy, places for kids to connect with nature—gone, forever,” Sutherland added.

In light of this particular threat to biodiversity, the Nature Trust announced a new Urban Wildlands Campaign, focusing on protecting important and treasured natural areas, in our backyard.

The Urban Wildlands campaign will raise funds and awareness to secure more urban and near-urban wildlands, and to care for these wildlands in perpetuity. It will offer citizens the opportunity to take action to protect the places they care about as volunteer “property guardians” helping to care for the wild places they love.

To donate to the Urban Wildlands Campaign or to volunteer, visit nsnt.ca, call (902) 425-5263 or emailnature@nsnt.ca

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Source : Media Release

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