Thousands of hectares of NS wilderness to be protected under landmark conservation agreement

HALIFAX — More than 5,000 hectares of precious wilderness in Digby County will be protected for generations by the Nature Conservancy of Canada.  The environmental protection group acquired the land, valued at almost $4 million, through a partial purchase and donation from J.D. Irving Ltd.

“It’s one piece in a bigger picture, so we’re trying to build a natural heritage for the future, for your children and for my children,” says Craig Smith, Nova Scotia’s program manager for the NCC. “Nova Scotia is a province that is founded on a strong connection to the nature environment even though we don’t always think of it that way.”

One quarter of the land was donated by Irving, who’s CEO credits environmental research like that done by NCC teams, with sustaining the forestry industry.

“Our business today is about seeing the forest for much more than just the trees,” says Jim Irving. “Sustainable forestry is at the absolute core of the way we manage our forestry business. Good environmental science and good stewardship are good business.”

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For other notable locals, just as important as the economy of conservation, is the culture and memories it creates.

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“We all live very busy, sometimes full lives that surround us with concrete and buildings,” says Peter MacKay, MP for Central Nova,  “but this is really what it’s all about and we are really blessed in this province.”

“I was one of those Nova Scotians who was lucky enough to grow up in rural Nova Scotia,” says Premier Darrell Dexter. “The necessity that we have to ensure that it is available for future generations is a big part of what this is all about.”

This land, which is referred to as the Tusket River Headlands including the area surrounding New France, will be the largest private conservation project ever undertaken in the region and so, comes with a set of challenges.

Stewardship is crucial says Bill Freedman an ecology professor at Dalhousie University.

“Stewardship is taking care of the land and that’s a responsibility that land trusts hold forever, it involves any type of management activities that are necessary to maintain ecological health forever, so that the conservation objectives will be achieved.”

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Video by Mike Dembeck, password: tusket

The conservancy says the Tusket River is globally significant for the number of rare plants found in downstream reaches within Yarmouth County.

The area provides habitat for the threatened snapping turtle and brook trout and the surrounding forest lands are home to other species at risk, including the olive-sided flycatcher, Canada warbler, common nighthawk and chimney swift.

with files from the Canadian Press

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