More land around central N.S. river now protected by Nature Conservancy of Canada

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The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) announced Friday it is expanding key wilderness area in the Halifax Regional Municipality, along the Musquodoboit River.

The non-profit agency said it is purchasing 126 acres, or about half a square kilometre, of forest, freshwater wetlands and lakes. It also purchased a one-kilometre section of river frontage.

In total, the NCC now owns just under 3.2 square kilometres of conservation area in the Musquodoboit River Valley.

“With the addition of this key parcel of land, the entirety of Turtle Lake is now fully protected,” read an NCC release.

Read more: Nova Scotia conservation group buys 220-hectare wildland outside Halifax

The area is an important habitat for species diversity in Nova Scotia.

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According to NCC, there is special concern for the survival of the snapping turtle and the bank swallow, a species of birds that’s listed under the Canadian Species at Risk Act.

“Migratory waterfowl, such as American black duck and common merganser, also depend on these freshwater wetlands,” said the agency.

Part of the land was previously owned by Jane, Ed and Mathew of the Webber family, who donated $16,700 towards the expansion.

“We are pleased to have played a part in ensuring that this beautiful wilderness property, and waterways, will be available for all to enjoy, for future generations,” the family said in a release.

Read more: Nature Conservancy of Canada protects large area in southwestern Nova Scotia

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The total cost of the project was just under $264,200, with other donations coming from the Nova Scotia Crown Share Land Legacy Trust, Environment and Climate Change Canada, and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service.

The Musquodoboit River Valley area contains a rare forest, the Wabanaki-Acadian forest, which holds red maple, red and black spruce, white pine and balsam fir trees. The forest supports two threatened species of birds, the live-sided flycatcher and the Canada warbler.

Only five per cent of this forest type remains in the Maritimes, said NCC.

Steven Guilbeault, federal Minister of Environment and Climate Change, acknowledged in the release that more needs to be done to halt biodiversity loss.

“It is vital that we take action locally, regionally, and nationally to recover Canada’s species at risk and restore our natural areas and biodiversity,” Guilbeault said.

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“This project adds important connectivity for wildlife by adding conserved land that connects to existing provincially protected areas.”

He added projects like these work towards the goal of protecting a quarter of Canada’s land by 2025, and 30 per cent by 2030.

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Across the country, NCC conserves about 150,000 square kilometres of land. Of those, about 27.5 square kilometres are in central Nova Scotia and just under 360 square kilometres in all of Atlantic Canada.

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