The Nova Scotia Nature Trust has announced its intent to create a daring, 46,000 acre protected zone which will protect as many as 100 islands from the threat of development.
The Nova Scotia Nature Trust (NSNT) is celebrating the official launch of The 100 Wild Islands Campaign, announcing their intent to initiate a far-reaching program aimed at protecting some of the most ecologically-diverse islands along Canada’s Atlantic Coast at an event in Halifax on June 25th 2014.
The conservation group aims to establish a 46,000 acre marine protected area between Clam Harbour Beach and Mushaboom Harbour, securing the future of a scientifically-significant hundred-strong island archipelago known as the Bay of Islands Coastal Wilderness in the process.
Despite being considered to be one of Nova Scotia’s national treasures, the Bay of Islands is actually one of the province’s least explored sites, with many of the islands largely undisturbed by humans in over 10,000 years. Home to beaches, lagoons, forest, bogs, barrens and more, Bonnie Sutherland, the executive director of the NSNT explains that every coastal habitat found in Nova Scotia can be found in the Bay of Islands.
And whilst Nova Scotia is certainly no stranger to conservation work, The 100 Wild Islands Campaign is the first time that a conservation project on such a grand scale has been attempted here, Sutherland explained in an interview with Global News: “Wilderness like this, on this scale is really rare globally. There are few places left that are this significant and pristine.”
If successful, the campaign will also form one of the first times that private island owners and The Crown have worked together in a program to protect the environment. The success of this campaign currently hinges on the NSNT raising CAD 7 million in capital and convincing the bay’s 30 private landowners to agree to protect their land through a combination of conservation easements, donations or approved land sales.
Despite a considerable shift in scale for the trust (the NSNT typically works only on a scale of one property or small land assemblages), Sutherland remains optimistic that the trust can make a positive difference. And not without good reason: whilst the capital campaign was announced less than a month ago, the NSNT has already succeeded in securing the archipelago’s flagship island and raising over half of their total.
Indeed, whilst the fundraising drive was only announced in June, much work had already been carried out behind the scenes to ensure that the foundations for this fantastic program were already laid. As reported by Private Island News earlier this year – the NSNT secured the purchase of Borgles Island in October 2013 – the first step in establishing The 100 Wild Islands campaign, as it later transpired
Since then, the nature trust has been able to raise a further CAD 4 million through work with other foundations (such as the Nova Scotia Crown Share Land Legacy Trues and Environment Canada’s Eco-Action Community Funding Program) and through generous businesses and a series individual sponsors – including one anonymous donor who has agreed to match every new dollar raised one-to-one.
With just CAD 1.5 million needed to meet the target sum, Bonnie Sutherland is quietly confident that the community will step up to the plate and help preserve this incredible island region for the benefit of future generations. “We love our coast, and here is a chance for everyone to be part of protecting our coastal legacy, on a scale we didn’t even realize still existed anywhere,” she said. “We have a globally significant 100 island coastal wilderness, right in our own backyard and it’s ours to protect.”
Have your say: Help preserve one of Canada’s greatest natural treasures and one of North America’s last unspoiled and ecologically rich coastal archipelagos by making a donation to the Nova Scotia Nature Trust at 100wildislands.ca/donate. Alternatively, feel free to share your thoughts on the initiative on our Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus pages.