By Fiona Brooks
The Nova Scotia Nature Trust is a non-government charity dedicated to protecting Nova Scotia’s natural legacy through private land conservation. Over the past 25 years, we have protected over 100 special places all across the province, from old growth forests to habitat for rare turtles. One of our most exciting campaigns is about protecting the 100 Wild Islands on the Eastern Shore.
As the Nature Trust’s new 100 Wild Islands Project Coordinator, I look forward to getting to know and working with many of you, and wanted to introduce myself and our organization to those who don’t know us.
The 100 Wild Islands campaign is about protecting a unique group of islands on the Eastern Shore between Taylor Head and Clam Harbour. We know the community treasures these islands for their wild beauty, and their scenic, historic, and cultural values too. Local residents have been caring for them for generations.
But many of the islands are privately owned, and if developed, both the wildlife and habitats, and public use of the islands, would be lost. You may recall the “no trespassing” signs and potential development on Borgles Island years ago—a hint of what could have been!
Since 2010, we have been working together with local residents, island owners, and other community partners to protect the islands, to keep them forever wild, and to ensure future generations can continue to use and enjoy the islands. Together with the Province (who own and manage the ‘Crown’ islands), we have protected 1600 acres of island wilderness, over 85% of the islands to date. We have been consulting with the community to create a management strategy for the islands to plan how to actively care for and steward them.
We understand there is some confusion about our role, with so many different things happening on the shore, from potential salmon farms, new tourism initiatives, and the proposed marine protected area. There are also many different organizations working on the shore, both government and non-government, so it’s easy to understand the confusion.
As a land trust, our role is to work together with private landowners (who own 70% of Nova Scotia and over 85% of our coast) to protect nature on these private lands. We hold those lands in trust, and care for them. Our lands are not ‘preserves’ that exclude people—they in fact provide wonderful opportunities for hiking, paddling, education, and enjoyment.
We are not part of government, nor are we a lobby organization. We are a non-profit charity, a community group dedicated to protecting nature on private lands. We are also not a marine conservation organization, and are not involved in marine protected areas. Our work protects biodiversity and wildlife on land, private land specifically, and that is our expertise and mandate—not oceans and marine life. Of course the land and the sea are intimately connected, and we hope the future ensures both a healthy and intact marine and terrestrial environment on the Eastern Shore, as well as healthy and prosperous communities.
Well before we started our 100 Wild Islands campaign, we reached out to the local communities first to share our ideas and to understand what local residents envisioned for the islands. We will continue consulting with and engaging the local community as we move forward in creating a management plan for the islands, working together to care for and steward these very special islands for generations to come!
If you have any questions or concerns, or would like to volunteer, please reach out to me anytime: Fiona Brooks ([email protected]), or call 902-425-5263.
Note: Fiona Brooks is the Nova Scotia Nature Trust’s 100 Wild Islands Project Coordinator.