Nova Scotia reaches goal of protecting 12 per cent of province's land

HALIFAX -- The recent designation of more than 100 areas as wilderness preserves and parks has pushed the Nova Scotia government over its goal of protecting 12 per cent of land in the province by 2015.

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The announcement made by the Environment Department Tuesday means the government just managed to meet the legislated target on time.

The 2015 goal of 12 per cent was set out in the Environmental Goals and Sustainable Prosperity Act, passed in 2007 by the Progressive Conservative government of former premier Rodney MacDonald.

The newly designated sites were identified after consultations with municipalities, the Mi'kmaq, community groups, industry and hundreds of individuals.

Environment Minister Randy Delorey said reaching the protected land goal was a "significant achievement."

"It is important that this land be kept natural to protect biodiversity and provide places for all of us to enjoy now and into the future," said Delorey. "That is why we will continue to look at other areas for protection and work with partners to help manage and realize the benefits of these protected areas."

Recent areas designated as protected include the Rogues Roost, Medway Lakes and Kluscap wilderness areas as well as the Harrison Woods and Dunraven Bog nature reserves.

The province has also created three new parks and added land to existing provincial parks at Cape Smokey, Five Islands and Taylor Head.

Ray Plourde of the Halifax-based Ecology Action Centre welcomed the government's announcement, calling it a major milestone for wilderness conservation in the province.

"With this announcement some of the most beautiful and ecologically important natural areas remaining in Nova Scotia will be legally protected from development and left forever wild," said Plourde.

He said his group would continue to work with the government to reach its goal of protecting nearly 14 per cent of land by 2020 under its parks and protected areas plan.



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