FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, Nov. 15, 2018
K’JIPUKTUK (Halifax) – On December 3, 1998, the Wilderness Areas Protection Act was passed unanimously in the legislature. The act had the support of all parties, and was established to ensure the "protection and use of wilderness areas, in perpetuity, for present and future generations.”
With the 20th anniversary of the Act just around the corner, the Ecology Action Centre (EAC) is calling on the province to celebrate this special anniversary with a gift - meet its long-promised goal of reaching at least 13% of Nova Scotia as protected areas.
Karen McKendry, Wilderness Outreach Coordinator at EAC, says getting to 13% is one of the easiest actions the government can take right now to help address climate change.
“We currently stand at just under 12.4% protected land, and the lands that need to be protected to get to 13% have already been identified, assessed, and consulted on,” McKendry says “These critical nature areas are simply awaiting designation by cabinet.”
According to the most recent report by the IPCC, we have just 12 years to curb catastrophic, human-caused climate change. The changes needed are vast, but wilderness protection plays a key role.
“Nova Scotia’s protected areas are strongholds for biodiversity, wildlife populations, and ecosystems services. They keep us alive, literally, and help make life worth living, through the solace, adventure, and research & education opportunities they provide. But we need more of them,” McKendry says.
McKendry says at least 13% of Nova Scotia’s land mass needs to be formally protected for nature conservation purposes. The more than 90 sites currently awaiting designation by cabinet would take us past that target.
The assessed sites include cherished places like Wentworth Valley, Sackville River, St. Mary’s River Corridor lands, and Cape Mabou. “Existing and pending protected areas are beloved by hikers, paddlers, hunters, fishers, photographers, and many more people,” McKendry says.
The Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq Chiefs (via the Mi’kmaq Rights Initiative) has provided feedback on proposed protected areas. The Province released a report on the positive commercial value of protected areas as well.
“We have all the reasons in the world to ensure these lands are protected, and the crises of biodiversity loss and climate change compel us to act sooner rather than later,” McKendry says.
EAC is proud of the province’s Wilderness Areas Protection Act, and what it, the Province, and the public have done to advance nature conservation in Nova Scotia in the last 20 years.
“Let’s celebrate and honor this Act by adding to the protected areas network, so that in 20 years we will look back on December 3, 2018, as pivotal day in ensuring we protected the wild spaces that keep us and so many non-human beings, alive,” says McKendry.
The Ecology Action Centre is a member-based environmental charity in Nova Scotia taking leadership on critical issues from biodiversity to climate change to environmental justice.
EAC and other environmental groups, and the public, have repeatedly expressed their desire for more protected areas, for all of the benefits that conserved land provides. Currently, EAC is calling on the province to meet its commitment of at least 13% of Nova Scotia as protected areas, in time for the 20th anniversary of the Wilderness Areas Protection Act, on December 3, 2018.
Lands proposed for protection by the Province were identified and consulted on the in 2013 Parks and Protected Areas Plan, totaling 253,430 hectares (626,239 acres) at 220 properties. Some of these lands were formally designated as protected in 2014, 2015 and 2017. If all of these lands identified in the Plan were protected, it would bring Nova Scotia to close to 13.9% protected areas.
To get from the current 12.4% of Nova Scotia’s land mass protected to 13% would require the protection of an additional 32,300 hectares (79,815 acres). This area is made up of more than 90 sites that have yet to be designated by cabinet. Location and conservation value information about all of the sites can be viewed on the Parks and Protected Areas Interactive Map
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For further information, please contact:
Wilderness Outreach Coordinator, EAC
(902) 442 - 5008