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Atlantic Canada's Largest Private Conservation Project Planned

TIMES & TRANSCRIPT (Moncton) 06/17/2013, Page A01
 
Atlantic Canada's largest private conservation project planned

JAMES FOSTER

HALIFAX - The Nature Conservancy of Canada has announced the largest private conservation project ever in Atlantic Canada, thanks to a collaboration between J.D. Irving, Limited, the Nova Scotia and federal governments and the Nova Scotia Crown Share Land Legacy Trust.

The conservation group has acquired 5,077 acres, or 2,055 hectares, of significant habitat at the Tusket River headwaters in Nova Scotia's Digby County.

The area is home to endangered species and an historic human settlement and is a key habitat for flora and fauna. It's about the size of 2,250 CFL football fields.

The funding partners held a news conference Friday to help celebrate the project.

The partial land purchase and donation involving J.D. Irving, Limited, includes stands of both intact and regenerating Acadian forest.

The land encompasses all or parts of three lake shorelines and sections of the Silver and Caribou rivers, all of which form the headwaters of the Tusket River system.

The Tusket River is globally significant for the number of rare plants found in downstream reaches within Yarmouth County,in southwest Nova Scotia.

"This is a special place,"said Craig Smith, the Nature Conservancy program manager in the province.

He described the area as one of the most threatened and significant river systems in Nova Scotia.

"NCC will now work with local stakeholders and partners to manage and steward this site, which has a long and enduring place in the hearts and histories of Digby County residents." Jim Irving, co-CEO of J.D. Irving, said this is only the latest collaboration among many that the company has enjoyed with the Nature Conservancy and other conservation partners.

"Our company has a long-standing history of working with the Nature Conservancy of Canada - on projects here in Nova Scotia as well as New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island," Irving said. "We also have undertaken initiatives with the Nature Conservancy in the U.S. - on our Maine timberlands.

"The Maritimes is home. Understanding and protecting our region's unique ecosystems and natural heritage is an ongoing commitment for our company and our employees. As a company whose activities rely on natural resources, our role as environmental stewards is a responsibility we take very seriously." In Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Maine, he said, the company's Unique Areas program has grown from about 25 sites in the late 1980s to more than 1,900 sites today.

"Today's announcement is a good complement to the conservation and research partnerships our company enjoys with other leading groups, like the Atlantic Salmon Federation, Bird Studies Canada, the Canadian Water Network as well as universities throughout the region. This summer our Woodlands team will welcome six scientists, five grad students and six research assistants conducting research that continues to guide our best forestry practices on the ground - an ongoing commitment for almost 20 years.

"Our business today is about seeing the forest for much more than just trees. Sustainable forestry is at the absolute core of the way we manage. It is a day-to-day effort on the part of all of our team who work in our woodlands - foresters, biologists and contractors. Through research, conservation and rigorous third-party forest audits and certification, we are using the best science to promote a healthy environment, protect water resources, and provide jobs to thousands with a sustainable wood supply.

He said good environmental science and stewardship are good business.

"It is a commitment and a belief we share with the Nature Conservancy," Irving said.

Nova Scotia Premier Darrell Dexter said he was delighted with the initiative.

"Protecting the province's ecologically valuable lands is a gift we give to ourselves today, and to our children and grandchildren in the future,"he said.