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Will you lose access to your hunting or fishing area?



Will you lose access to your favourite fishing hole?


Will you no longer be able to drive to your favourite hunting area?


As Nova Scotia moves forward with its commitment to protect 12% of the land mass area in Nova Scotia, the Department of Environment has created a list of possible new protected areas.  

In the first wave of protected wilderness spaces, most were in remote and hard to access areas.  Looking at the map of proposed new wilderness areas, it quickly becomes obvious that many of these lands have been open and available for use for many years.  They are crisscrossed with access roads, logging roads and trails that have allowed people to travel within these spaces.  They are the areas that many of us have hunted and fished our entire lives.  They are the areas where so many of our rural neighbours find their recreational opportunities.  They are common areas for ATVing and snowmobiling.  They are in our backyards.  


I urge every hunter and angler in the province to look at the map and see how you will be affected.  Remember: if you are hunting or fishing an area that is not planned for protection, you will still be impacted.  If people who used neighbouring lands can no longer use those areas, they will move.  Spaces outside of protected areas will be under greater pressure as people seek new areas to hunt, fish and enjoy their other recreational activities.

Those of us who were affected by the first areas to be protected already know how it restricted our activities.  The Nova Scotia Department of Environment took the position that human activities in these areas should be restricted and that there should be no motorized access permitted.  Truck roads and ATV trails were posted and users were told to keep their vehicles out.  Lakes were posted, "no outboard motors", and conservation enforcement officers were sent to inform boaters that their outboard motors were not allowed.  (It was only after it was pointed out that navigation on waterways was Federal jurisdiction that the Department of Environment dropped their restriction on outboard motors for the time being.)  People who owned lands within protected areas were not permitted motorized access to those lands to go to camps or to harvest wood products on their own property.  


While the Department of Environment may have made a few exceptions since then, these restrictions are still in place.  While some ATV clubs may have been granted corridors though some wilderness areas, use of these corridors are very restricted, and construction and maintenance of the trail to meet Department of Environment standard can be very expensive.


These are the areas where we who seek our recreation in the outdoors go.  People who find their recreation in the city may find this difficult to understand, but what would the city dweller say if it was decided that the city recreational areas should be protected?  The parks would be fenced in and prohibited, and paths and walkways would be closed to human use.  The public gardens would be closed so no one can see or stroll through the plants.  The doors on recreational facilities would be locked to prevent wear and tear inside of the buildings.  For hunters and anglers and many others, protecting the wild places in this province by saying that we cannot go there is taking away our recreational opportunities. Moreover, the people who are actively engaged in outdoor activities in our wild spaces are the most powerful ambassadors and advocates for public education and appreciation of thespecies and habitats there, and have vested interest in being responsible stewards of those spaces.


As hunters and anglers, we have always supported protecting and conserving our wild places.  We still do.  But how much protection is necessary?


If we look at the history and intent underlying this legislation, there seems to be room for responsible use of Nova Scotia's wild spaces.

Founded in 1948, IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) recommended that all countries should strive to protect 12% of their land mass.  The province of Nova Scotia has passed legislation to designate and protect 12% of the land mass of this province by 2015.  There has been no objection to this decision from hunting and fishing groups.


The IUCN recommended 6 levels of protection which would fulfill a country's commitment to protecting 12% of their land mass.

The IUCN protected area management categories are:


Ia Strict nature reserve

Ib Wilderness area

II National park

III Natural monument

IV Habitat / species management area

V Protected landscape / seascape

VI Protected area with sustainable use of natural resources


The Nova Scotia Department of Environment seems to have taken the position that all new protected areas in Nova Scotia should fall under strict categories 1a&b classification.

The IUCN suggested “One of the associated principles to the protected area definition states: “All categories make a contribution to conservation but objectives should be chosen with respect to the particular situation; not all categories are equally useful in every situation."

This implies that a well-balanced protected area system should consider using all the categories, although it may not be the case that all of the options are necessary or practical in every region or country. In the large majority of situations, at least a portion of protected areas should be in the more strictly protected categories i.e., I–IV."


Nova Scotia is a unique and very small province.  Only 25% of the lands in Nova Scotia belong to the province.  To protect 12% of the land mass in Nova Scotia will mean designating fully ½ of the crown lands of this province.

It is my opinion that Nova Scotia's 12% commitment could be accomplished, if the Department of the Environment would consider other categories of protection for new candidate protected areas.  Most new candidate areas could be protected under IUCN category 4, 5 & 6 designations, while maintaining the recreational and environmental stewardship interests of all Nova Scotians:


IUCN Category IV: Habitat/species management area


Primary objective

●To maintain, conserve and restore species and habitats.


Other objectives:

●To protect vegetation patterns or other biological features

through traditional management approaches;

●To protect fragments of habitats as components of landscape

or seascape-scale conservation strategies;

●To develop public education and appreciation of the

species and/or habitats concerned;

●To provide a means by which the urban residents may

obtain regular contact with nature.



Category V: Protected landscape/



Primary objective

●To protect and sustain important landscapes/seascapes

and the associated nature conservation and other values

created by interactions with humans through traditional

management practices.


Other objectives

●To maintain a balanced interaction of nature and culture

through the protection of landscape and/or seascape and

associated traditional management approaches, societies,

cultures and spiritual values;

●To contribute to broad-scale conservation by maintaining

species associated with cultural landscapes and/or

by providing conservation opportunities in heavily used


●To provide opportunities for enjoyment, well-being and

socio-economic activity through recreation and tourism;

●To provide natural products and environmental


● To provide a framework to underpin active involvement by the

community in the management of valued landscapes or seascapes

and the natural and cultural heritage that they contain;

A protected area where the interaction of people and

nature over time has produced an area of distinct character

with significant ecological, biological, cultural and

scenic value: and where safeguarding the integrity of this

interaction is vital to protecting and sustaining the area

and its associated nature conservation and other values.


Category VI: Protected area with

sustainable use of natural resources


Primary objective

●●To protect natural ecosystems and use natural resources

sustainably, when conservation and sustainable use can be

mutually beneficial.


Other objectives

●To promote sustainable use of natural resources, considering

ecological, economic and social dimensions;

●To promote social and economic benefits to local communities

where relevant;

●To facilitate inter-generational security for local communities’

livelihoods – therefore ensuring that such livelihoods

are sustainable;

●To integrate other cultural approaches, belief systems

and world-views within a range of social and economic

approaches to nature conservation;

● To contribute to developing and/or maintaining a more

balanced relationship between humans and the rest of nature;

●To contribute to sustainable development at national,

regional and local level (in the last case mainly to local

communities and/or indigenous peoples depending on

the protected natural resources);

●To facilitate scientific research and environmental monitoring,

mainly related to the conservation and sustainable

use of natural resources;

●To collaborate in the delivery of benefits to people, mostly

local communities, living in or near to the designated

protected area;

● To facilitate recreation and appropriate small-scale tourism.



If we hope to protect and manage the wild lands of Nova Scotia to reflect the interests of the anglers, hunters and outdoor enthusiasts of this province, we must all be involved.  Contact the NSFA&H and voice your support.  Look at the web sites above and become more informed.  Contact your MLA and voice your concerns.  We must insist that the Nova Scotia Department of Environment is representing the interests of all Nova Scotians as they establish our protected areas.



E. Robert Cross

A Former President of the Nova Scotia Federation of Anglers & Hunters