Crown Land in Nova Scotia

What is Crown Land?

Crown lands are all or any part of the land under the administration and control of the Minister of Natural Resources. Of the 5.3 million hectares of land in Nova Scotia, about 1.53 million hectares (3.8 million acres or about 26% of the province) is designated as Crown land.

In addition, most of the submerged lands (the sea bed) along the Province's 9,000 km of coastline are also considered Crown land. Exceptions would include federally and privately owned waterlots.

The Province owns other land across Nova Scotia, including wilderness areas, protected areas, highways, roads, and provincial buildings. These parcels and structures are managed and administered by other departments and are not considered Crown land.

How do I locate Crown Land?
Crown Land Index Sheets are located through the Department of Natural Resources library which is located on the 3rd floor of Founders Square, 1701 Hollis Street, Halifax, NS. The Crown Land Information Management Centre, on the 5th floor of Founders Square, contains maps, records and information related to Crown lands. If you have access to Property Online, the government’s online land registry system, Crown land can be located by searching under "NS Natural Resources". Property Online can be accessed through Land Registry offices, which are located in each county. The Nova Scotia Atlas, which can be purchased at the Land Registry offices and at some book stores, is also an excellent source of information on Crown land. Nova Scotia Crown lands can also be viewed online using the Provincial Landscape Viewer.

What can I do on Crown land?
Crown land is owned by the Province and managed by the Department of Natural Resources on behalf of the citizens of Nova Scotia. It is a collective asset which belongs to all of us. Nova Scotians are welcome to enter onto Crown land and to explore its natural beauty. Hunting and fishing are permitted on Crown land, in season and with a license. Many trails have been built on Crown lands, for the use and enjoyment of Nova Scotians. Trail uses may vary depending on the region and those using the trails should follow directions on signs posted in the area.

The right to use and explore Crown land comes with an obligation to leave nature in its natural state. Trees and underbrush must not be cut from Crown lands without a license. Plants may not be dug up and removed. Wildlife must not be disturbed.

Many acres of Crown lands are licensed for a variety of economic purposes to help build and maintain the prosperity of the Province. These purposes range from licenses and leases for cranberry bogs, forestry operations, mines, peat bogs, power lines, wind energy, to broadband towers and tidal energy. The Crown land is a finite asset which we strive to use effectively for the good of all Nova Scotians. Public activities on Crown land should not interfere with the rights of those who have entered into leases or licenses with the Province.

The activities that are permitted in wilderness areas and wildlife management zones are different than those permitted on Crown land. For questions regarding wildlife management zones, please contact the regional offices of the Department of Natural Resources. Questions about wilderness areas should be directed to the Department of Environment.

How do I apply to use Crown Land?
If you are interested in using Crown Land for non-forestry purposes or if you want to sell land to the province, you will need to complete an application form, online or by downloading the document.