Inviting Public Comment on NB’s Natural Protected Areas

In January, following our campaign to protect Shepody Mountain, Minister Mike Holland announced he would be protecting the full 700ha of Crown Land identified in our nomination under the government’s new initiative to increase conservation areas from 4.7% to 10% before the end of 2020. It was exciting news.

Last week, he announced the launch of a new website – What is our Nature Legacy? – to highlight and solicit public comment on province-wide candidate sites.  Four sites are featured, one of which is Shepody Mountain. Other areas have also been identified as potential sites. This is a chance for everyone who spoke up and supported the nomination to add their comments on Shepody Mountain.

(click to enlarge)

An interactive map viewer shows all the candidate sites around the province. By zooming in and clicking on a candidate site (outlined in bright green), a blue box opens with a site ID. (see image on the right – Shepody’s site ID is 0641). Any sites outlined in orange and pink are existing protected areas.

Click on the arrow (>) in the blue box to submit comments for that site.  You’ll have a chance to say why you want this site protected. The public can also nominate other crown lands for protection here.

We were surprised to see, however, that the proposed protected area for Shepody was only 470ha. We’re awaiting information on the reason for this discrepancy, as the minister committed to the full 700ha. (The map above shows proposed area vs total crown lands.)

December 1, 2020 UPDATE: The Minister confirms that 700ha will be set aside for conservation and here is the response from DERD: “Following Departmental review, the larger portion of Crown land was prioritized for its intactness and the density of old forest stands. As we have only identified 82,000 ha of Candidates on our website, we still have over 300,000 ha of Candidate Conserved Areas to identify and post for comment. There are still lots of areas on Crown land where the ecological conditions are still being considered…The more isolated or disconnected parcels within this region are still being worked on.

It’s clear that New Brunswickers are unhappy with the habitat being lost, so we encourage everyone to submit comments on any candidate sites (especially in Albert County!) with which you have a special connection.

In our region, other sites have been identified around the Caledonia Gorge PNA, north of Riverside-Albert, north and west of Fundy National Park. Of particular importance, critical Atlantic salmon habitat in the Big Salmon River watershed, within the Fundy Trail Parkway region, has been identified for much needed protection. This is an area that has been subjected to large scale commercial harvesting.

Public comment and engagement is important. You can be part of leaving a legacy of protection for future generations, so please share the site with others who have familiarity with these regions and may want to participate.