Nova Scotia families will benefit from new and expanded provincial parks and more land than ever will be protected for future generations as part of the province’s Parks and Protected Areas Plan released today, Aug.
Environment Minister Sterling Belliveau and Natural Resources Minister Charlie Parker said the plan will protect 13 per cent of the province’s lands by 2015. It will also ensure that provincial parks continue to offer the high quality experience visitors expect.
“Four years ago, the province set an ambitious target to move from having one of the poorest land protection records to being a national leader,” said Mr. Belliveau. “I thank the many organizations and people who contributed to not only meeting, but surpassing, our 12 per cent goal.”
Careful planning and land purchases from 2009-13 will protect more than 200,000 hectares of additional lands by 2015, designate 44 new wilderness areas and expand 31 more, and create 118 new nature reserves and expand 11 more.
The plan will also add four new provincial parks, and expand 12 more.
“We need to maintain a balance between recreation, research and commercial use of our lands if we are to see the full benefits of our natural resources,” said Mr. Parker. “I believe this plan helps us work toward finding that balance.”
Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq were consulted to ensure historically sensitive areas are protected and traditional activities and access can continue.
“Protecting our lands and resources has always been important to the Mi’kmaq of Nova Scotia,” said Chief Rod Googoo, Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq Chiefs. “This plan not only ensures this protection, but also respectfully takes into consideration our traditional use and access.”
Environment groups applauded the province’s actions on land protection.
“This is a monumental achievement for nature conservation in Nova Scotia. Preserving and protecting these critical wilderness areas will benefit wildlife and citizens for decades to come,” said Raymond Plourde, wilderness co-ordinator with the Ecology Action Centre. “We commended the government enthusiastically for their hard work and steadfast support for conservation. Today, Nova Scotia is a national leader.”
“The sites that will be protected are some of the most ecologically significant areas remaining in the province and include large intact forests, long stretches of coastline, rare species habitat and significant wetlands and waterways,” said Chris Miller, national conservation biologist for the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society.
Extensive public consultation was conduction on protected areas and provincial parks.
To see the plan and interactive maps, visit www.gov.ns.ca/parksandprotectedareas/ .