Click on the blue dots above to visit each of our wilderness hotspots.
These dots indicate Crown (i.e., public) lands proposed for Wilderness Area designation by the Nova Scotia Public Lands Coalition and others.
"The fact is that Nova Scotia is lagging behind its commitment to complete a representative network of protected areas, more needs to be done, and time is of the essence. World Wildlife Fund's Nature Audit, released in May of this year, indicated clearly that Nova Scotia has very little intact wilderness to choose from, so you have to save the best of what's left quickly before it's gone. There are many important areas on Crown land that could and should be protected, for example the Nova Scotia Public Land Coalition's list of 18 hot spots which would go a long way towards meeting outstanding provincial commitments. If the Coalition's candidates were delivered, you would reach adequate or moderate ecological representation for about two-thirds of Nova Scotia's landscape features. The results would be remarkable, and would help Nova Scotia regain its lead in conservation in Canada."
The Protected Areas Network in Nova Scotia as committed to by the Nova Scotia government in 1992 remains incomplete. Scientists and government agencies agree that the defining characteristic of a complete protected areas network is one in which reasonably large representative examples of the 80 natural landscapes found in Nova Scotia are adequately protected. By the government's own admission, only 23 of these natural landscapes currently enjoy adequate protection. Clearly, more land must be set aside and protected from the aspects of human activity and development which degrade ecosystems.
The Wilderness Areas Protection Act (1998) is the best legislative tool at our disposal for completing the network. DNR advocates the use of their IRM plan as a reasonable substitution for completing the Protected Areas Network, however, the greatest protection afforded within the IRM structure, a C3 designation does not prohibit degrading human impacts, it only offers that "resource activities [within C3 lands] may be very limited, modified, or denied." In contrast, the Wilderness Areas Protection Act specifically prohibits forestry, mining, agriculture, aquaculture, hydro-electric development, and transmission and pipelines. The relatively strict limits on destructive human activities afforded by the Wilderness Areas Protection Act make it the right choice for protecting more land in Nova Scotia.
The Act is also appropriate in that it is designed to allow for many forms of low-impact outdoor recreation. Traditional hunting and fishing, canoeing, kayaking, cross-country skiing, hiking, backpacking and back-country camping are all allowed under the act. Each activity will be balanced against providing adequate protection for the natural communities within the Wilderness Areas, but with reasonable restrictions on how, when and where outdoor recreation can take place, these Wilderness Areas will become treasured vacation destinations for many generations of Nova Scotian families.
In the absence of government doing its job and identifying new candidate areas for protection, the Ecology Action Centre and the Public Lands Coalition have identified 18 areas of Public Land throughout the Province which, if added to the current 31 Wilderness Areas, would take us much closer to a complete Protected Areas Network. These Protected Areas should be placed under moratorium immediately, to prevent their degradation at the hands of intensive resource extraction and industrial or residential development. Scientific studies should be completed for those areas which have not yet been studied to determine their potential as protected areas. And lastly, the areas should be designated as Wilderness Areas under the Wilderness Areas Protection Act.
Once a highway cuts through a wild space, the wilderness is forever fragmented. Once an open pit mine tears open the earth, it cannot again be made whole. Once a forest is clearcut, its diversity is forever compromised. The 18 Wilderness Areas proposed by the Public Lands Coalition need protection now.
© Nova Scotia Public Lands Coalition, Ecology Action Centre, 2006