The 13 Per Cent: NGOs Call For Fulfillment of Nova Scotian Protected Areas

St. Mary's River Conservation Lands

Wilderness areas have been a reality in Nova Scotia since December 3rd, 1998, when the Wilderness Areas Protection Act came into force and simultaneously designated the first 31. These areas, unlike parks which can be partially dedicated to recreation, are strictly for conservation on the ecosystem scale, protecting entire landscapes and the vital processes therein.

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The Buck Stops with the Boreal

Cape Breton Highlands National Park

Where, do you think, is the most intact forest on Earth? Your mind might take you to the solid green canopy of the Amazon Rainforest or perhaps to the Congo, places being undervalued into oblivion but which are still, mercifully, vast, possessing of remoteness it seems can only be found in a good book these days. The world’s most intact forest, however, is much closer to home. In fact you’ve probably walked through it, blissfully unaware of its global significance.

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My Tenure On High: The Cape Breton Highlands and the Majesty Therein

Cape Breton Highlands

The dawn chorus, as it’s known, takes place at first light particularly in spring and early summer, a consequential time for the myriad species of nesting bird across Nova Scotia. It begins timidly, with a few of the more light sensitive species piping up first, marking territories, attracting mates or carrying out any number of mysterious biological functions. Within minutes more chime in, until the air is lit with hundreds of ethereal voices.

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Rebirth of the American Beech: Selective Breeding Program Aims to Restore Healthy Beech to Maritime Forests

PEI Beech Seed Orchard

There was a time when American beech commanded much of the Maritimes, growing to tremendous sizes with porcelain smooth bark, a generous abundance of seed and autumn beauty to rival any hardwood. But that’s not the American beech we’ve come to know, seeing instead a tree corrupted by black rot, its bark twisted and cankered beyond recognition, stunted and with very few seeds. In little over a century this species fell from canopy heights, now a leper among plants.

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Rewilding of the Ruminants

Plains bison

Few species are as iconically North American as the Plains bison, once numbering 30 million strong from central Alberta to northern Mexico, from the Rockies in the west to Washington City in the east.

It’s extraordinary to me that European settlement could have been so unforgiving to this magnificent ruminant, stealing away its prairie habitat and hunting them within a few dozen members of extinction. All those persevering today are descended from the 85 individuals who survived our onslaught by 1888, bred in the confines of federal protection until numerous enough for reintroduction.

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The Underground Owl

Burrowing Owl

They told me I wouldn’t see one. The sun was fast setting over the rolling hills and prairie vistas of Grasslands National Park, Saskatchewan, and I’d already failed to spot one earlier that day. But given this park’s openness, where great distances and colossal skies are always within view, I was overcome with the possibilities inherent to this place. It was worth a try.

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