Nature trust announces plans to protect Mabou Highlands, St. Mary’s River

    The Nova Scotia Nature Trust wants to protect four properties around the St. Mary’s River.

    DARTMOUTH: The Nova Scotia Nature Trust (NSNT) announced plans to protect as many as 15 new conservation sites, including two in the Strait area.

    Maggie Sutherland, communications coordinator with the NSNT, told The Reporter that the lands in question include the Mabou Highlands in Inverness County, and in Guysborough County, the St. Mary’s River.

    “As part of this campaign four new properties will be added to a growing wild corridor the nature trust has been working to protect on the iconic St. Mary’s River,” Sutherland said. “This beautiful ‘ribbon of green’ shelters towering old growth forests, rare floodplains, endangered Wood turtles, birds [Canada Warbler] and Atlantic Salmon. Eight conservation sites have been protected to date. The new additions combined with the Provincial Corridor Lands [pending designation] will add significant connectivity and ecological integrity for the watershed.

    “The Mabou Highlands is a major land assemblage and will preserve a spectacular coastal wilderness—hardwood forests, brooks and ravines, rugged seashore, and world-class hiking trails. Together with the adjacent Wilderness Area, we can preserve up to 2,350 hectares of Cape Breton wildlands. At least five properties could be saved by March 31.”

    The Government of Canada has committed to protecting 17 per cent of the country’s land and inland waters for biodiversity by 2020 with a $1.3 billion investment in nature conservation.

    Through the recently launched Nature Fund, the government is encouraging community groups and citizens to take action in protecting Canada’s biodiversity. To build momentum for this national effort, the government chose key conservation leaders across the country to deliver quick wins for biodiversity.

    “Canada is committed to doubling the amount of nature protected on land and in our oceans,” said Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change. “By partnering with NGOs and all orders of government, we’re working together to protect more nature, meeting our goals, and growing our economy. The Nova Scotia Nature Trust’s significant contribution will protect land and biodiversity in Canada, conserving nature for future generations.”

    The Nature Trust was chosen for one of the largest grants, and will receive up to $1.45 million through Quick Start—a program under the Canada Nature Fund.

    “Projects/partners were selected based on their contribution to hectares protected or conserved, ecological integrity, advancement of indigenous reconciliation priorities, connectivity to each other or existing conserved and protected areas, and proximity to completion,” Sutherland explained.

    The Nature Trust developed an ambitious conservation initiative, the Lasting Landscapes campaign, to protect 15 of the highest priority natural areas across the province.

    To meet federal requirements for Quick Start, the Nature Trust must not only secure a record number of conservation sites by March 31, but must also raise another $750,000 in public support.

    Contributed photos
    The Mabou Highlands is one of the areas the Nova Scotia Nature Trust wants to protect.

    “It’s a bold plan, in response to an extraordinary, time-limited opportunity,” Bonnie Sutherland, the Nature Trust’s executive director said. “We have 15 top priority biodiversity hotspots ready for protection, but we need the public’s support to succeed. We urge Nova Scotians to step up and donate, to save the places they love.”

    With enough public support, the campaign could leverage over $3 million through the Nature Fund and matching contributions by the Nova Scotia Crown Share Land Legacy Trust. Nearly $500,000 has been raised or pledged to date for the campaign.

    Sutherland noted the timeliness of the campaign.

    “So many Nova Scotians are discouraged about the state of our environment and our natural resources. But here is an opportunity to take positive action. To seize an historic, time-limited chance to make a big, tangible, and lasting difference for the wild places we love. We may never see another opportunity quite like this for Nova Scotia’s wild places.”

    Sean Fraser, Member of Parliament for Central Nova Scotia, and Parliamentary Secretary for Environment and Climate Change Canada, applauded the Nature Trust’s conservation leadership.

    “Land trusts like the Nova Scotia Nature Trust are critical partners in protecting Canada’s natural environment,” Fraser noted. “With many of our most ecologically rich and threatened natural areas in private ownership, land trusts are uniquely positioned to help us protect nature and conserve our environment.”

    Donations can be made at nsnt.ca or by phone at (902) 425-LAND. Every dollar donated by March 31 will leverage four more dollars in biodiversity conservation. For more about the campaign visit: nsnt.ca/lastinglandscapes.