The Nova Scotia government has added a wilderness area near St. Margarets Bay to the list of proposed protected areas slated for consultation.
The 5,000-hectare Ingram River area is three times larger than peninsular Halifax. It includes Island Lake and is near an existing nature reserve.
The list of proposed protected areas now includes 62 wilderness areas, nature reserves and provincial parks. Consultation on eight of the areas will begin the week of July 12.
"This site adds to our efforts to protect biodiversity and preserve the natural beauty of Nova Scotia," said Environment and Climate Change Minister Keith Irving. "The plan developed for this area is representative of our approach to ecological forestry, biodiversity conservation and land protection. We are committed to protecting Crown land of high ecological value for the benefit and enjoyment of Nova Scotians today and for future generations."
There is a new land management model proposed for protecting the Ingram River area under both the Wilderness Areas Protection Act and Crown Lands Acts. The approach will deliver recreation, conservation and economic benefits to the community and province, and will include a biodiversity assessment and public survey on area values.
The St. Margaret's Bay Stewardship Association and forestry operator WestFor Management played an important role in conveying the strong connections people have to these lands and highlighted many conservation opportunities.
Government's proposed plan will:
-- support the protection and restoration of forest stands and wildlife habitat associated with Island Lake and lands adjacent to the existing Old Annapolis Road Nature Reserve
-- protect intact natural forest areas and improve biodiversity connections to existing protected areas in the region
-- create a special management zone with no forest harvesting to conserve areas of biodiversity and enhance ecological connectivity in a corridor that surrounds and follows the Ingram River
-- conserve additional areas of old forest through the Department of Lands and Forestry's Old Forest Policy
-- ensure ecological forestry approaches to resource management
-- support a wide range of outdoor recreation activities for Nova Scotians and visitors
"We are delighted to see the proposed Ingram River wilderness area finally advancing to public consultations for an eventual designation of a significant large wilderness area in the St. Margarets Bay district. This district has traditionally been underrepresented in Nova Scotia's Parks and Protected Areas Network, so this will bring the area up to par with other districts in the province. The area has tremendous recreation and conservation values, including pockets of old growth forests, which are provincially rare and in need of protection."
- Raymond Plourde, senior wilderness coordinator, Ecology Action Centre
"I'm very excited. This is a great step in the right direction for conservation in Nova Scotia. This is an important area for the community for a diverse array of uses. Hopefully, this will help us move forward with a different model of how we view the value of protected areas."
- Mike Lancaster, stewardship coordinator, St. Margaret's Bay Stewardship Association
-- a 60-day public consultation period on Ingram River and seven other proposed protected areas will begin in July
-- a socio-economic analysis of the impact of designated wilderness areas will need to be completed and made publicly available prior to formal wilderness area designation
-- these 62 sites will support government's new 14 per cent land protection goal
-- since 2013, more than 150 sites have been protected
-- government is conserving areas important for outdoor recreation and tourism; protecting habitat for mainland moose, migratory birds and other wildlife; and helping efforts to conserve species at risk, old and mature forests and coastal ecosystems
Proposed protected sites announced in April: https://novascotia.ca/news/rel
Sites on which government has previously consulted: https://novascotia.ca/news/rel
Nova Scotia's Old Forest Policy: https://novascotia.ca/natr/lib