Biodiversity, Crown Lands Legislation Focuses on Protection of Ecosystems
Today, March 11, the Rankin government introduced the Biodiversity Act — new legislation that will preserve and protect Nova Scotia’s unique ecosystems, wild animals, plants, lakes and forests for future generations.
This new act provides a foundation to manage risks, such as invasive species or ecosystem loss and diseases, and gives the government authority to act where there are threats or where opportunities for sustainable use of biodiversity exist.
The act will serve as a toolkit for biodiversity management and provide a framework for the development of new regulations.
Originally introduced in 2019, the Biodiversity Act was revised following extensive consultations with stakeholders including environmental groups, forestry industry representatives and private landowners.
“The new act provides a solid foundation for how we manage, conserve and restore our province’s biodiversity,” said Lands and Forestry Minister Chuck Porter. “We have listened to the concerns raised about the original legislation and incorporated that feedback into this new act.”
Feedback from consultations helped improve the act in several areas, including:
- adding additional clarity to the purpose, powers, and authorities
- clarifying how and when tools such as biodiversity emergency orders and management zones can be used
- promoting innovation and enabling the creation of incentives for businesses and landowners
- clarifying the specific circumstances where compensation to landowners would be considered
- emphasizing collaboration by committing to consultation during the development of accompanying regulations
- prioritizing education and awareness on biodiversity
In addition to the Biodiversity Act, Mr. Porter introduced amendments to the Crown Lands Act, which also place priority on the sustainability and conservation of the province’s ecosystems.
These important amendments reflect the broader range of societal values and uses of public lands as recommended by Prof. William Lahey in his review of forestry practices in Nova Scotia.
The amendments align with government’s commitment to the conservation of biodiversity in the management of Crown land.
- consultations on the revised Biodiversity Act were held over the course of 2019 and 2020
- individuals and groups representing academia, environmental non-governmental organizations, large and small private landowners, Mi’kmaw organizations, biodiversity-related professional organizations and other non-governmental organizations participated in sessions held across the province
- consultations are being planned for the development of regulations
- the Biodiversity Council, established in May 2018, will continue to provide advice on the act, shifting its focus to priority areas for implementation
- amending the purpose of the Crown Lands Act is a first step in the ongoing work to review business processes for managing Crown lands