Q: Who is the Nova Scotia Nature Trust?
A: The Nature Trust is a charity dedicated to protecting Nova Scotia’s most unique and outstanding natural areas. With over 70% of all land in Nova Scotia in private ownership (including 85% of our coast), the Nature Trust was created to help landowners interested in protecting nature on their lands. The Nature Trust has already protected 91 conservation sites across the Province, encompassing over 10,700 acres of land, including many favourite hiking, boating, and fishing spots. The Nature Trust is not part of government, and is not an activist environmental group. Our mission is to help Nova Scotians protect the places they love, for generations to come.
Q: Are there really 100 Wild Islands?
A: There are actually more than 100 islands! There are 282 islands between Clam Harbour and Mushaboom Harbour. One hundred and twenty seven islands are over an acre in size, but some of the smaller islands are actually most important ecologically, as they provide critical nesting sites for birds such as terns and ducks.
There are seven islands over 200 acres in size, including three over 500 acres, making them some of the largest islands in Nova Scotia. Some are so large they contain their own freshwater lakes!
The size and density of the islands is part of what makes them so unique and important ecologically. They function as one large ecosystem in which species can easily move between islands and natural processes, like the movement of beaches over time, can occur unimpeded by human activities (such as hardening off shoreline/building roads). The preservation of these natural processes is especially important in light of climate change and sea level rise.
Q: How big is the 100 Wild Islands wilderness?
A: The 100 Wild Islands is the largest coastal island wilderness in Nova Scotia.
The wilderness stretches 30 kilometers along the coast (roughly the distance from Halifax to the airport, Halifax to Tantallon, or Wolfville to Windsor). The total land area is 7,000 acres or 27 square kilometers.
The total ‘footprint’ of the 100 wild islands is 46,000 acres, almost the size of Fundy National Park (note--the waters are not protected, only the islands).
To give some perspective on size:
- Keji Adjunct (National Park) 2,700 acres
- PEI National Park5,436 acres
- Thousand islands National Park 5,930 acres
- Sable Island8,401 acres
- Broken Group Islands (Pacific Rim National Park) 26,000 hectares (3,300 acres is land)
- 100 Wild Islands 46,000 acres (7,000 acres is land)
- Fundy National Park 51,000 acres
- Kouchibouguac National Park 59,060 acres
- Kejimkujik National Park 99,800 acres
- Cape Breton Highlands233,800 acres
Q: Can we continue to enjoy the islands?
A: The Nature Trust’s 100 Wild Islands campaign is about protecting the islands for nature, and for people too. The islands will continue to provide unparalleled opportunity for Nova Scotians and visitors alike to experience and explore the magic of Canada's Atlantic coast, as they have for generations. Traditional use of the islands will continue to be permitted.
Q: How will the islands be managed?
A: Together with the local community, conservation experts and partners and government, the Nature Trust is developing a long term management and stewardship plan for the islands to ensure that the unique natural values of the islands are protected, forever, while continuing to allow sustainable, appropriate use and enjoyment of the islands. This planning will involve an ongoing consultation process, community workshops and a local advisory group who help to engage the local community. We will steward the islands in partnership with the local community and conservation partners, through monitoring, outreach and education, and a volunteer island guardian program.
Q: Who will own the 100 Wild Islands?
A: To protect the entire island group, the Nature Trust has brought together both public and private land conservation efforts. Just under half the islands were privately owned, and the Nature Trust is working with over 25 owners of these islands (3,000 acres of land) to include their islands in this coastal wilderness legacy.
Some islands have been protected through conservation easements, which allow the land to stay in family ownership, but the natural values of the islands are protected, forever, and the owner receives tax benefits in recognition of their conservation gift for the benefit of all Nova Scotians. Islands have also been donated to the Nature Trust or purchased (at or below fair market value) by the Nature Trust. The islands protected by easements, donated to or purchased by the Nature Trust have become part of the Nature Trust’s growing conservation lands network, which already includes over 86 conservation sites all across the province, protected in trust for all Nova Scotians.
The remaining islands (4,000 acres of land) are owned by the Province. As part of the campaign, the Nature Trust worked with the provincial government to secure a commitment to protect the Crown-owned islands. In 2015, all of the Crown-owned islands within the 100 Wild Islands focus area were designated as part of the Eastern Shore Islands Wilderness Area. Since being designated as Wilderness Area, the islands will remain in government ownership, but the islands can never be sold, subdivided or the natural values of the islands destroyed.
Q: What does “protected” mean?
A: Nova Scotia Nature Trust Conservation Lands, as well as the Crown-owned islands designated as Wilderness Areas, are formally protected, meaning that they are owned and managed for nature conservation purposes, and for the public to enjoy in a sustainable way. Lands protected by the Nature Trust will not be developed, meaning they will not be sold, subdivided, houses and roads will not be built, the forests will not be cut, and they will be monitored and stewarded every year to preserve their natural features. These areas will not be developed for personal or industrial use, thereby maintaining community access and a natural landscape to enjoy.
The Nature Trust has been working with residents of the Eastern Shore and recreational users of the islands to ensure that their knowledge of the islands’ natural history, values and traditional use of the islands is understood and respected. This information will play a major role in the management of the area.
Q: What will campaign donations be used for/enable the Nature Trust to do?
A: Contributions to the $7 million campaign will help the Nature Trust to:
- Protect, forever, more than 37 significant privately-owned properties in the 100 Wild Islands focus area.
- Leverage the protection of surrounding Crown-owned islands
- Undertake the work needed to permanently protect the islands through purchases, land donations and conservation easements, including legal work, surveys, appraisals, ecological assessments, conservation planning and landowner outreach, education and negotiations
Friends of the Wild memberships will be used to fund the care and stewardship of the islands, forever, including:
- Ongoing land stewardship and management in partnership with the province, enthusiastic local community volunteers and island owners.
- Conservation education and outreach work
- Engaging volunteers as Property Guardians to steward the islands
- Work with the province, island owners and users and the local community to create a conservation vision and management plan for the entire 100 Wild Islands Coastal Wilderness, encompassing both Crown and private lands.
Q: How has the campaign gone to date?
A: Clearly this campaign is resonating with a great many people. Exciting progress has already been made so far in protecting the islands. We have secured the Province’s commitment to protect all Crown-owned islands as Wilderness Area—encompassing 4,000 acres of land! In 2015, the province designated all of the Crown-owned islands within the 100 Wild Islands focus area as part of the Eastern Shore Islands Wilderness Area. We have secured three of the most outstanding sites in the archipelago: the idyllic sand beaches and lagoons of Shelter Cove; the majestic Ship Rock Island; and the 530 acre coastal wilderness of Borgles Island, 275 acres of the vast 800 acre Gerard Island, and others! To date, 80% of the islands have been protected, with more in progress. Other island owners are keen to add their lands to this coastal legacy project and your financial contribution helps us to accomplish just that.
On the fundraising side, we were incredibly fortunate to receive a generous lead gift of $1.5 million from Paul Gauthier (as well as a commitment to match up $2 million in additional donations). At the beginning of the campaign, we had already raised or received pledges for $2.5 million through foundations, businesses and community donations. On June 25, 2014 we launched a public campaign to raise the remaining $1.5 million required for success (which was matched dollar for dollar, bringing our total to $7 million). Since the public campaign launch, community members have been responding with much enthusiasm and generosity!
In August 2016, we announced that we had successfully raised the $7 million required to protect the 100 Wild Islands, and we launched the Friends of the Wild, in support of the long-term stewardship of the islands.
Once complete, we will have protected over 100 wild islands, valued at well over $15 million!