The New North Mountain Ridge Conservation Lands: More conservation gains in Cape Breton

30 Apr 2020

We are delighted to be celebrating two new conservation properties and another on the way along the North Mountain Ridge in Cape Breton. Between the communities of Lime Hill and Malagawatch, the newly protected lands are in close proximity to existing Nature Trust conservation lands – MacKenzie Cove, McCrae’s Island, and Lime Hill Conservation Lands. The new conservation lands add 180 acres to the land assemblage, for a total of over 600 acres – now collectively known as the North Mountain Ridge Conservation Lands.

Old Forests, Wetlands and Birds

The new properties conserve tracts of mature Acadian hardwood and mixed-wood forests that stretch from the base of North Mountain up the south-facing slopes of the North Mountain Ridge to the plateau above. The towering, noble stands of Sugar Maple, Yellow Birch and American Beech that characterize the steep slopes provide habitat for a rich diversity of wildlife, including rare and at-risk bird species like the Boreal Chickadee, Tree Swallow and Eastern Wood-Peewee. With less than 1% of Nova Scotia’s forests in an old growth stage, it is critical that mature forests, like those found on the slopes of the North Mountain Ridge, are protected, forever.

On the relatively gentle slopes near the top of North Mountain, the properties support a variety of wetlands that serve as headwaters to brooks and streams flowing into Bras d’Or Lake. Not only are these wetlands home to rare plants like Alder-leaved Buckthorn, they provide important habitat for birds too. During a site visit this summer, Rich, our Conservation Biologist, spotted a breeding pair of Rusty Blackbirds in an open wetland at the northern end of one of the new properties. This species is listed as “endangered” in Nova Scotia and “special concern” in Canada.

The mature forests and headwater wetlands represented on the new conservation lands are more than just wildlife habitat, they also provide a range of ecosystem services such as, regulating water flow, improved water quality, carbon sequestration, nutrient cycling, soil formation and soil retention.

Landscape Connectivity

We’re connecting the conservation dots – each new property connects with a growing assemblage of conservation lands in the area protected not only by the Nature Trust but also lands protected by the provincial government and the Nature Conservancy of Canada. While the North Mountain Wilderness Area (part of which is still awaiting provincial designation) and the Little Beaver Lakes Nature Reserve protect some of the mature forests and wetlands along the top of the North Mountain Ridge, the southern slopes of this area are mostly under private ownership. Private lands in the area are generally long, narrow parcels of land that connect the lower slopes of North Mountain to the top of the plateau. So, by protecting these ecologically important parcels of private land, we are maintaining landscape and habitat connectivity from the top of the mountain all the way down to the islands in the lake and adding representative of that slope habitat to the protected areas network.

Protected, forever

Protecting these lands is just the beginning.  The Nature Trust is committed to ensuring that the conservation features of our lands thrive through an active, ongoing land stewardship program. In addition to our hard-working staff team, we are growing an enthusiastic crew of volunteer ‘property guardians’ who help with on-the-ground monitoring and stewardship of our conservation lands.

More on the horizon

A nearby landowner has generously offered to donate her property, to add to this exciting conservation land assemblage on the slopes of North Mountain, Cape Breton. We are currently fundraising to cover costs associated with this conservation gift, and to ensure its long-term protection and stewardship.

How you can help

Tax-deductible charitable donations to support this and other important conservation efforts across Nova Scotia can be made on-line, or by calling our friendly staff at (902) 425-5263.

If you live in the vicinity of the North Mountain Ridge, Cape Breton, or are a frequent visitor to the area, and are interested in becoming a Property Guardian, we would love to hear from you. Please contact Ryan, our Volunteer Coordinator, for more information (ryan@nsnt.ca).

Our Thanks

This project was made possible by the Government of Canada through the Natural Heritage Conservation Program, part of Canada’s Nature Fund.

Our thanks as well for generous support from the Nova Scotia Crown Share Land Legacy Trust, and thank you to all our ongoing supporters and friends who made these land achievements possible.

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