Effective management of Nova Scotia's protected areas requires a thoughtful and flexible approach which emphasizes stewardship and responsibility. Management planning plays an important role in guiding the protection and use of protected areas, consistent with applicable legislation and policies.
Management planning may include public consultation and review. The level of public participation depends on the scope and complexity of planning issues, and on applicable requirements under policies and legislation.
The Wilderness Areas Protection Act requires that management plans be developed for Wilderness Areas, while defining management plans very broadly. These plans support long-term protection and management goals. While day-to-day management of Wilderness Areas is an ongoing government responsibility, a variety of management planning tools may be used to guide management actions and provide opportunities for public involvement.
- Comprehensive Management Plans describe what will happen in specific Wilderness Areas over a set time period. Using information from many sources, such plans identify key issues and set goals and strategies for protection and use of an area, which are consistent with the legislation. This approach is broad and inclusive. Comprehensive management plans will be developed, on a priority basis, where the number and scope of management issues for an individual Wilderness Area justify this level of planning.
- Management Direction Statements are simple documents that describe Wilderness Area values, identify key issues, and provide priority management strategies. Management Direction Statements will be developed, on a priority basis, for Wilderness Areas where a comprehensive management planning process is not immediately anticipated.
- Focused Management Exercises address specific issues which require immediate attention, provide for public input, and give direction for actions or activities that can be used for effective management.
- Management Agreements provide an opportunity for groups or individuals to participate in specific activities, and take on management-oriented responsibilities (e.g. maintaining a trail).
As guiding documents written under the Wilderness Areas Protection Act, all management planning tools must be consistent with the spirit and direction of the legislation. While these provide management direction for an individual area, they cannot provide or create legal authority beyond the Act itself.
One of the goals of management planning is to encourage shared responsibility for stewardship, which is a key guiding principle for the management of all Wilderness Areas. This principle is reflected in the purpose of the Act, and is reiterated in many other public documents. Finding ways to encourage such stewardship by all users, in a practical and effective way, is a constant challenge, but one which is essential to effective protection and management.
The Special Places Protection Act requires that the Special Places Advisory Committee assist the Minister in developing a management plan for a Nature Reserve, prior to designation. The plan contains information regarding the purpose of the site, and information and regulations which will ensure protection of the site.
Nova Scotia's two Canadian Heritage Rivers are managed according to separate plans which highlight the unique nature of the individual rivers. The Shelburne Canadian Heritage River Management Plan (1996) outlines the role of government and industry partners, in protecting the values for which the river was designated. For the Margaree-Lake Ainslie Canadian Heritage River, the guiding document is A Partnership Strategy (1996), which outlines values and priority actions, and establishes the integral role of a community-based organization in implementing the strategy.