Canada and Nova Scotia commit to shared actions to protect more nature and halt biodiversity loss
August 18, 2022 – Halifax, Nova Scotia Conserving and restoring nature is vital in the fight against climate change; protecting biodiversity and species at risk; and maintaining a strong, sustainable economy. Canadians, including Indigenous Peoples, depend on nature to supply us with food, clean water, breathable air, and a livable climate. Today, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada, the Honourable Steven Guilbeault, together with the Nova Scotia Minister of Environment and Climate Change, the Honourable Timothy Halman, and the Nova Scotia Minister of Natural Resources and Renewables, the Honourable Tory Rushton, marked Canada and Nova Scotia’s shared commitment to nature conservation at an event at Maskwa Aquatic Club, next to the Blue Mountain – Birch Cove Lakes wilderness area, the site of the first proposed national urban park in Nova Scotia. At today’s event, the two governments agreed to work together to:
advance negotiations on a funded Nature Agreement that will focus on a number of nature-related opportunities, including protecting more natural spaces in Nova Scotia and increasing habitat protection for species at risk and migratory birds, to be finalized by 2023;
complete the pre-feasibility assessment and work toward the designation of the proposed national urban park at Blue Mountain – Birch Cove Lakes, together with other key partners, including the Halifax Regional Municipality, the Nova Scotia Nature Trust, and the Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq. The Government of Canada commits to making a foundational investment, such as land acquisition or infrastructure, by the end of 2023. This site has great potential to advance shared goals of protecting nature, enhancing access to nature for Nova Scotians and all Canadians, and advancing reconciliation;
seek new opportunities for connecting key areas of protected and conserved lands, including by completing a pilot project in Nova Scotia under Parks Canada’s National Program for Ecological Corridors, by 2025, in collaboration with partners. In undertaking this pilot project, both governments commit to engaging Indigenous communities so that shared goals of connecting culturally and naturally significant areas can be achieved. The pilot will be the first project in Atlantic Canada under Parks Canada’s National Program for Ecological Corridors; and
develop a funding agreement to conserve old-growth forests and address the hemlock woolly adelgid. Under the Nature Smart Climate Solutions Fund, Environment and Climate Change Canada has agreed to commit up to $10 million, which will contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and increasing carbon sequestration, while also providing benefits for biodiversity and human wellbeing.
Nova Scotia’s goal to conserve at least 20 percent of land and water mass in the province by 2030 supports Canada’s goal of protecting 25 percent of lands and inland waters in Canada by 2025 and working toward 30 percent by 2030. The commitment to negotiate a nature agreement underscores the shared priority for nature conservation in Canada and Nova Scotia. Canada’s push to protect more nature comes as we prepare to welcome the world to the 15th United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity in Montréal, Quebec, from December 7 to 19. This landmark conference is a chance for Canada to show its continued leadership and work with international partners and Indigenous Peoples to take action to conserve nature and halt biological diversity loss around the world. By working together on a nature agreement, the governments of Canada and Nova Scotia are working to advance conservation goals, which helps tackle climate change and halt biodiversity loss. The future depends on everyone taking action now.
“Today’s commitments represent a major step forward for the protection of nature in Nova Scotia. With commitments for an urban park, new ecological corridors, and other protected areas in the province, Nova Scotians will be happy to see a strong foundation for the establishment of a federal-provincial Nature Agreement by 2023. Nova Scotia’s leadership in supporting Canada’s conservation goals is something we would like to see from all provinces and territories in Canada, particularly as we are about to host the major COP15 biodiversity conference this December and champion more international conservation efforts.” – The Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada
“Residents in Halifax West and across Nova Scotia understand the deep value of maintaining our pristine natural spaces. Not only does conserving more nature help us fight climate change and protect our biodiversity, it makes it easier for Canadians to live healthy, active lifestyles with a connection to the natural world. Our government, and all our partners, understand that we are privileged to be able to enjoy natural spaces like the Blue Mountain – Birch Cove Lakes wilderness area, and I am excited about its potential as a national urban park. Let’s continue to work collaboratively across jurisdictions to make nature conservation a priority for the good of Canadians of today and tomorrow.” – Lena Metlege Diab, Member of Parliament for Halifax West
“Nova Scotia’s protected areas are critical for our economic growth, the health of our environment, and quality of life. They help us adapt to climate change while providing healthy ecosystems for many diverse species. We’ve committed to protecting 20 percent of our land and waters by 2030, which will contribute toward the national goal of protecting 30 percent of Canada’s land and water mass by 2030. Together, this will help ensure a sustainable, cleaner, and healthier future.” – The Honourable Timothy Halman, Nova Scotia Minister of Environment and Climate Change
“Conserving old-growth forests is an important part of our conservation efforts, our approach to ecological forestry, and our fight against climate change. We’ve updated our old-growth forest policy to strengthen the protection it offers. This work, coupled with the support from our federal partners to treat important stands against hemlock woolly adelgid, means we’ll be able support biodiversity and increase opportunities for carbon storage in Nova Scotia.” – The Honourable Tory Rushton, Nova Scotia Minister of Natural Resources and Renewables
The Government of Canada has invested $15.8 million for nature conservation in Nova Scotia resulting in more than 36,600 hectares of conserved land across the province. This is just a little smaller than Kejimkujik National Park and National Historic Site.
There are currently fifty-six national wildlife areas (NWAs) across Canada containing nationally significant habitats for animals or plants, and species at risk. There are seven NWAs in Nova Scotia, including the newly designated Big Glace Bay Lake National Wildlife Area in Cape Breton.
Environment and Climate Change Canada has initiated pre-consultations with Nova Scotia and other partners, stakeholders, and Indigenous communities on the proposed Atlantic Archipelago National Wildlife Area, with the goal of establishment in fall 2024. This unique proposed National Wildlife Area will comprise dozens of coastal and island properties, including federal land at Seal Island, Guyon Island, and Owls Head;
The province of Nova Scotia recently protected provincial land at Owls Head as a Provincial Park, which is adjacent to a portion of the proposed Atlantic Archipelago National Wildlife Area;
Environment and Climate Change Canada has also initiated pre-consultations on the creation of three other national wildlife areas in Nova Scotia, on Country Island, Isle Haute, and St. Paul Island, with the goal of establishment in fall 2023.
The National Urban Parks Program represents the next evolution for Parks Canada whose history over 110 years has provided Canadians with a system of national parks, national historic sites, national marine conservation areas, and Rouge National Urban Park, which was established in 2015. This includes such Nova Scotia treasures as Kejimkujik National Park and National Historic Site, Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Site, and Sable Island National Park Reserve.
Parks Canada protects a vast network of cultural and natural heritage places that include 171 national historic sites, forty-seven national parks, five national marine conservation areas, and one national urban park.
Nova Scotia is home to two UNESCO-designated biosphere reserves, including the Bras d’Or Lake Biosphere Reserve in Cape Breton and the Southwest Nova Biosphere Reserve on the south shore. Biosphere reserves are internationally designated areas that bring people together with nature in a sustainable and environmentally friendly way. They support the conservation of biodiversity and encourage people to learn about and take stewardship actions for sustainable development.