Frequently Asked Questions




Q. What is Crown land?
A. Crown land is all or any part of land under the administration and control of the Minister of Natural Resources. Of the 5.8 million hectares of land in Nova Scotia, about 1.4 million hectares (3.5 million acres or about 24% of the province) is designated as Crown land. In addition, most of the submerged lands (the sea bed) along the Province's 8,000 km of coastline are also considered Crown land. Exceptions would include federally and privately owned waterlots.

Q. Are the protected areas in the province considered Crown land?
A. By law the protected areas do not fit into the definition of Crown land because they are under the administration and control of the Minister of Environment. By agreement, the Department of Natural Resources manages the protected areas on behalf of the Nova Scotia Environment, based on their direction and advice. Because of this close relationship, many people refer to all of the land managed by Natural Resources (including protected areas) as Crown land.

Q. What is Provincial land?
A. Provincial land is all or any part of land under the administration and control of all Nova Scotia government departments, including Natural Resources, Nova Scotia Environment, Department of Community Services, Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal, etc.

Q. How do I locate Crown land?
A. Crown Land Index Sheets are located at 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 land. 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.

Q. Are Nova Scotians allowed to go onto Crown land?
A. 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.

Q. What activities are permitted on Crown land?
A. Hunting and fishing are permitted on Crown land, in season and with a license. Many trails have been built on Crown land, 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 land without a license. Plants may not be dug up and removed. Wildlife must not be disturbed.

Q. What does the province do with all the Crown land?
A. Many acres of Crown land 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, 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.

Q. Are the same activities permitted in wilderness areas as on Crown land?
A. 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.

Q. Does the Department of Natural Resources publish a list of land that is for sale?
A. Crown land in Nova Scotia is generally not for sale because the government owns only a small percentage of the land in the province (less than 30%). The Department of Natural Resources only sells Crown land in limited circumstances, primarily where it is in the best interests of the Province. Requests are reviewed on a case by case basis. If you are interested in purchasing land in Nova Scotia please visit for a listing of private properties currently for sale.

Q. Can I buy Crown land to build a house or cottage?
A. No. Crown land is not sold for private recreational or residential purposes.

Q. Where can I obtain a permit to build or repair a wharf?
A. To get a permit to build or repair a wharf, contact your local Department of Natural Resources office.

Q. Who do I contact to report illegal dumping on Crown land?
A. To report illegal dumping on Crown land contact the nearest office of the Department of Natural Resources.