Nova Scotians and visitors alike have long enjoyed the province's extensive coastline, scenic views and numerous beaches. In addition, the province's diverse landscapes, forests, lakes and rivers have long provided recreation opportunities. To ensure continued access and enjoyment of these treasures, in 1959 the Province enacted the Provincial Parks Act.
In the early years, provincial parks were primarily tourism amenities; small campgrounds and picnic areas found along the province's highways.
In the 1970s and 1980s the emphasis shifted to providing a larger land base offering high-quality outdoor recreation opportunities. Coastal lands were acquired to provide beach access and to protect sensitive coastal habitats. During the same period, larger natural environment parks were established and the demand for trail opportunities increased.
The Parks Act was last updated in 1989 and a Park Policy document was issued in 1988.