Nova Scotia Liberals alter tabled biodiversity bill by reducing enforcement powers

THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Nova Scotia Nature Trust, Scott Leslie,

Nova Scotia’s Liberal government is adjusting its long-awaited biodiversity bill to make it apply solely to Crown lands, while private landowners can be asked to comply on a voluntary basis.

The province said in a news release Tuesday it is introducing changes to the legislation to address concerns from private landowners and other stakeholders. The bill was tabled two weeks ago.

The changes remove biodiversity emergency orders, offences and fines from the act, and limit the bill’s scope to Crown lands, unless permission is given on private lands.

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Nova Scotia is mostly owned by private landowners, with just 35 per cent of the land owned and administered by the province.

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The bill was originally promoted as a “toolkit” where government could act to reduce risk to biodiversity, such as invasive species, disease and loss of ecosystems.

Premier Iain Rankin says he’s been listening to the concerns of his caucus members who have been speaking to their constituents about the bill.

The news release says the act still sets up programs “where the province will work with private landowners in a voluntary fashion to develop biodiversity management zones on their property.”

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