Natural Scenery

Nova Scotia Nature Trust reaches goal of doubling protected areas

The Nova Scotia Nature Trust has reached its goal of doubling the amount of land it protects — a major win for the province’s wild spaces.

In what it describes as its most ambitious campaign ever, the non-profit set out in 2020 to protect an additional 6,000 hectares of land across Nova Scotia. 

With its most recent protection of 300 hectares on Barren Island, found off the coast of Marie Joseph, N.S., on the province’s Eastern Shore, that milestone has officially been met.

Executive director Bonnie Sutherland said Wednesday the Twice the Wild campaign was meant to help address biodiversity loss amid climate change.

A kayaker is seen in the water next to rocky cliffs.
Plaister Cliffs lie along the Bras d’Or Lake in Cape Breton. (Submitted by Adam Hill)

She said land conservation is one of the most tangible ways to save biodiversity in a province that has seen the devastating impacts of climate change first-hand in recent years, including record-breaking wildfires and unprecedented flooding.

“The alarm has sounded. There’s been, across the globe, a call to immediate urgent action for nature to save more land more quickly, before it’s too late,” Sutherland told a news conference.

“These new conservation lands protect unique landscapes and ecosystems, safeguard critical homes for wildlife, and preserve essential corridors between protected spaces.”

It took the trust 25 years to protect the first 6,000 hectares in its care. 

More than 80 conservation areas were acquired during the campaign, bringing the total number of lands protected by the nature trust to 190 properties.

With more than 65 per cent of Nova Scotia’s land being privately owned, the nature trust provides landowners with a non-government, community-based option for protecting their land through things like permanent conservation easement agreements and land donations, it said.

An aerial view of a beach.
Little Charles Island is on the province’s Eastern Shore in the heart of the 100 Wild Islands archipelago. (Submitted by Chris MacFarlane)

Sutherland said a whopping $1-million donation from the David and Faye Sobey Foundation at the outset of the campaign in 2021 stirred momentum and added credibility to the project, paving the way for another $4 million in public donations over the following three years.

That funding leveraged more than $23 million through multiple levels of government and other matching funds, the trust said, including $750,000 from the Halifax Regional Muncipality for the Blue Mountain wilderness connector, a wilderness area just 20 minutes from downtown Halifax.

Nova Scotia Environment Minister Tim Halman said the campaign went directly toward the government’s goal of protecting 20 per cent of the province’s land by 2030.

“It will help fight climate change, ensure we have clean drinking water and air, improve human health and well-being, strengthen biodiversity, and so much more,” he said at the news conference.

The initiative also directly benefited the federal government’s goal of protecting 30 per cent of Canada’s lands and waters by 2030.

WATCH│Nova Scotia Nature Trust announces success of Twice the Wild campaign

Other protected areas in the care of the nature trust include the Mabou Highlands, the St. Mary’s River and Kespukwitk.

Through regular monitoring and environmental stewardship, the nature trust said it will ensure that the natural values of its 12,000 hectares will be protected in perpetuity, it said.

Sutherland added that the work is far from done. The trust plans to announce its next campaign soon.

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