Two new lands extend protection along North Mountain Ridge

01 Feb 2024

Located in Unama’ki, along the Bras d’Or Lake, two newly protected properties add 187 acres to our growing North Mountain Ridge focus area.

The conservation lands in this area represent ongoing collaboration between the Province, the Nature Trust and the Nature Conservancy of Canada. Until now, conservation efforts have focused on the south side of the mountain; the first of these two newly protected properties, on Marble Mountain, is the first to extend that protection and increase ecological connectivity on the north side. It adds 94 acres of relatively intact and old forest conditions, freshwater wetlands, and habitat for Species at Risk, and its protection increases the long-term ecological integrity of the adjacent provincially protected Little Beaver Lakes Nature Reserve.

The second property fills a critical gap in the provincially protected North Mountain Wilderness Area. Protecting this ‘inholding’ removes the risk that the protected area, including the Nature Trust’s adjacent conservation lands, could be fragmented by future development. The property itself spans approximately 93 acres on the North Mountain in Lime Hill. The property is undeveloped and entirely forested, including ecologically important and rare mature deciduous forest (100 years old and older). With less than 1% of Nova Scotia’s forests being old growth, opportunities to protect large intact tracts of old forests are a high conservation priority.

Gertie McCarron, donor of the Lime Hill property, with her son Lee.

This second property was donated to the Nature Trust by Gertie McCarron through the Canadian Ecological Gifts program (Ecogifts), which offers significant tax incentives for gifts of ecologically important land. While working through her late husband’s estate, a lawyer mentioned that the Nature Trust might be interested in some of the land her husband had purchased through his business many years previously. Gertie’s son, Lee, reached out to see whether there might be any conservation potential in the land and was delighted to learn that it lay within one of the Nature Trust’s focus areas. “The stars aligned,” said Lee. “Any time that you can donate something, and have people to steward the land, that’s way better than what we could do ourselves. It just seemed like a really good fit, and it worked out well for everybody. We’re certainly glad to be able to close this piece off so it can be protected forever, and it’s in good hands with you all.”

Along with old forest and wetland ecosystems, both properties and the surrounding area support rare and endangered lichen species, including Nova Scotia’s official lichen, Blue Felt Lichen.

Blue Felt Lichen is typically found growing on mature broad-leaved trees in Canada, in coastal oceanic areas or a distance inland in damp valleys, because it requires moist, high-humidity habitats that are close to stream or lake margins to grow. For Blue Felt Lichen to thrive on an elevated plateau on the North Mountain Ridge seems unlikely, but here it actually finds a very unique condition for success: The Bras d’Or Lake is so large that that it produces significant ongoing amounts of fog and moisture. At the same time, the old forest has a tall dense canopy that helps trap that moisture and keep conditions under the canopy cooler and damper. The combination of the fog and the old forest creates the ideal, albeit surprising, mountain conditions for these moisture-dependent lichens to grow.

Together these two new conservation lands extend the haven for plants and wildlife throughout the North Mountain landscape.

This project was undertaken with the financial support of the Government of Canada through the federal Department of Environment and Climate Change.

Our thanks as well for generous support from the Nova Scotia Crown Share Land Legacy Trust, a critical source of land securement funding for Nova Scotia’s land trusts.

And finally, thank you to all our ongoing supporters and friends who made these land achievements possible. If you’re inspired to help us keep saving land in this region and all across Nova Scotia, we invite you to make a donation today!

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