Historic Land Purchase Program a Huge Success!
March 29, 2010
With the purchase of 5,300 hectares (13,000 acres) of forest land from JD Irving Ltd. and NewPage Port Hawkesbury, the Government of Nova Scotia wrapped up its highly successful Large Land Purchase Program last week. Since it was announced in September the program has provided $75 million to buy over 56,000 hectares (140,000 acres) of land from large forestry companies.
“This program is one of Nova Scotia’s biggest conservation investments in years. It’s unprecedented and has been a huge success,” according to Kermit deGooyer, the Centre’s Land Conservation Coordinator. “Many of these parcels would have been snatched up by developers or subjected to aggressive forestry practices. Through this program the Province safeguarded countless irreplaceable elements of Nova Scotia’s natural heritage.”
The newly acquired lands will be used for various purposes, with a large portion of them expected to eventually receive formal protection as part of Nova Scotia 12%-by-2015 protected areas commitment. The selection of areas that the Province bought was heavily influenced by the recommendations of the Colin Stewart Forest Forum, a collaborative planning process for protected areas that the Ecology Action Centre initiated with other conservation groups, forestry companies, and the provincial government. The Province will make final decisions on the location and configuration of new protected areas from the purchased lands after an extensive public consultation process.
The purchases include long stretches of undeveloped oceanfront, old growth conifer and hardwood forests, wild river corridors, large representative wildlands, important habitat for the reclusive mainland moose, critical inholdings in existing Wilderness Areas, and hotspots for species-at-risk such as pine marten, Blanding’s turtle, eastern ribbon snake, eastern white cedar, and several endangered coastal plain plants. Several properties boast important backcountry canoeing and hiking destinations as well.
“The new government is to be commended for quickly following through on recommendations made by the Colin Stewart Forest Forum,” says EAC Wilderness Coordinator, Raymond Plourde. “Many of these high conservation value lands would have been lost without government purchasing them while they were available. Opportunities like this are rare in Nova Scotia where Crown land accounts for less than 30% of the province. We applaud the government’s commitment to the 12% goal and urge them to continue making strategic investments in nature conservation as we move towards the 2015 target.”
The Centre is encouraging the Province to build on the success of the Large Land Purchase Program by creating a dedicated revenue stream for ongoing major land purchases.