Government of Nova Scotia Government of Nova Scotia Nova Scotia, Canada


Protected Areas

Activities and Programs

The Protected Areas Branch is responsible for planning and managing Nova Scotia's Wilderness Areas, Nature Reserves and Heritage Rivers.

Ongoing priorities include:

Site Management:

Managing Wilderness Areas, Nature Reserves and Heritage Rivers is a significant responsibility and is supported by planning which is consistent with protected area objectives and applicable legislation.

Nova Scotia Environment (NSE) shares management responsibility for Nova Scotia's protected areas with Nova Scotia Natural Resources (DNR) and public organizations. DNR is responsible for enforcement and field services. Through management agreements with NSE, public organizations manage local trails and may undertake other initiatives in support of stewardship of our protected areas.

Public Involvement:

Public participation in planning and management is an essential component of the protected ares program. Protected Areas staff communicate and meet regularly with organizations and individuals to discuss management issues and opportunities. Consultation and collaboration initiatives are an important part of policy development, area management, and system planning, and occur as needed across the province. For example:

  • local trail organizations are leading the development and management of several outstanding hiking trails;
  • volunteer citizen advisory groups are working with Nova Scotia Environment and Labour in various locations, to provide advice regarding area-specific management and planning;
  • moose hunting guides and local community members are playing an important role in developing a wilderness area access strategy for the annual moose hunt in northern Cape Breton;
  • a regional Heritage River Society is leading a community water quality monitoring program with area schools.


Nova Scotia's protected areas offer some of our finest outdoor recreation opportunities - from wilderness canoeing, hiking and sea-kayaking to fishing and hunting. Appropriate, low-impact recreational use is recognized as an important objective. Some activity restrictions exist in protected areas to protect special or fragile natural features and values, and to ensure continued opportunities for wilderness recreation.

Education and Research:

Protected areas provide great opportunities for active learning. In addition to providing a living classroom for casual exploration, protected areas act as natural laboratories for ecological research. Annual outings in selected protected areas are led by staff as part of the provincial Park Events Program, and presentations on protected areas planning, biodiversity conservation and related topics are given to university and college students in Nova Scotia, as feasible.

Private Land Conservation:

Almost 70% of Nova Scotia is owned privately. With so much land in private hands, the role of individual landowners in protecting our natural heritage is extremely important. Protected Areas Branch supports private land conservation in many ways.