Two firsts for NCC in Cape Breton
There is no question that Nova Scotia’s Cape Breton is a special place in Canada. In fact, the unique landscape and communities of central Cape Breton were recognized in 2011 by UNESCO when it designated the Bras d’Or Lake Biosphere Reserve. There are only 18 biosphere reserves in Canada, which are deemed to demonstrate a balanced relationship between humans and the natural world.
This year, the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) acquired three extraordinary properties in central Cape Breton, near the Bras d’Or Lakes. The newly acquired properties protect important habitats and provide wildlife corridors to nearby existing protected sites
Totalling 676 acres (274 hectares), these conservation areas are NCC’s first in Cape Breton in more than a decade. They are also the first in our long-term plan to protect some of the unique habitats and ecosystems in central Cape Breton.
The new conservation areas include unusually rich and diverse habitats of unique wetlands, mature Acadian forest and, in particular, rare gypsum karst landscapes. The habitats are situated in locations near Lake Ainslie and around the northwestern shore of Bras d’Or Lakes.
Cape Breton is home to some of the best remaining undisturbed gypsum-based ecosystems in eastern North America. These sites have unique plant communities that have a very limited distribution. It is estimated that only one per cent of these unique gypsum-based ecosystems are currently protected.
Three species of birds listed under the federal Species at Risk Act have been identified on these new conservation areas:
- Canada warbler
- olive-sided flycatcher
- rusty blackbird
The conservation of these Cape Breton properties was made possible with funding support from the Government of Canada, under the Natural Areas Conservation Program. In addition, a portion of this project was donated to the NCC under the Canadian government’s Ecological Gifts Program, which provides enhanced tax benefits for individuals or corporations donating ecologically significant land. The Nova Scotia Crown Share Land Legacy Trust, US Fish and Wildlife Service, through the North American Wetlands Conservation Act, and many private donors also contributed to the success of these projects.