Minister Guilbeault announces more than $1 million for two Nova Scotia biosphere reserves to protect nature and help meet Canada’s conservation goals

News release

August 19, 2022 – Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia

Canadians depend on nature for clean water to drink and clean air to breathe, food to eat, and beautiful places in which to enjoy the outdoors. Conserving nature is vital in order to protect species at risk, combat climate change, and build a strong, sustainable economy.

Today, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, the Honourable Steven Guilbeault, announced an investment of more than $1 million over three years for the Bras d’Or Lake Biosphere Reserve in Cape Breton, which will receive $463,140, and the Southwest Nova Biosphere Reserve in southwestern Nova Scotia, which will receive $585,362. The funding, from Canada’s Enhanced Nature Legacy program, will support enhanced management of biodiversity conservation areas in Nova Scotia, with the goal of recognizing them as Other Effective Conservation Measures (OECMs), to become part of Canada’s conservation network and bring the country closer to meeting its target of protecting 25 percent of lands and waters in Canada by 2025, while working towards 30 percent by 2030.

Over the duration of the funded projects, Nova Scotia conservation partners will work together to restore, maintain, and enhance biodiversity conservation in the buffer zones—the areas surrounding the core protected areas—of each biosphere reserve.

In collaboration with conservation partners, including local First Nations groups, the funding will be used to identify and prioritize areas with high biodiversity levels for protection as OECMs, including the lands surrounding or near Kejimkujik National Park and the Tobeatic Wilderness Area in the Southwest Nova Biosphere Reserve. In the Bras d’Or Lake Biosphere Reserve, the project involves hydrological monitoring for better watershed management, with particular attention being paid to the watershed area around the Eskasoni First Nation, which is also being proposed as an Indigenous Protected and Conserved Area.

The Government of Canada’s push to protect more nature comes as we prepare to welcome the world to the 15th United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity in Montréal, Quebec, from December 7 to 19. This landmark conference is a chance for Canada to show its leadership along with international partners in taking actions to conserve nature and halt biological diversity loss around the world, done in partnership with Indigenous peoples. UNESCO designated biosphere reserves, like the two being referenced today, are vital contributing actions.


“Biosphere reserves are an internationally recognized model for bringing communities together to connect with and protect nature. These two biospheres in Nova Scotia are a natural fit for increased conservation areas, since they are rich in diverse species and wildlife, and important to their local communities. By investing in these biosphere reserves in Nova Scotia, we are both protecting natural spaces that are so valued by communities and contributing to our national conservation goal of 25 by 25.”
– The Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Environment and Climate Change

“The Bras d’Or Lake is a centrepiece for Cape Breton and it has deep meaning for all Cape Bretoners, especially the Eskasoni First Nation, whose traditional territory is nestled along its shore in Eastern Cape Breton Island. This federal funding for the Bras d’Or Lake Biosphere Reserve will benefit the watershed and support long-term conservation measures in sensitive habitats for species at risk. I also applaud the efforts of the Eskasoni community, led by the Eskasoni Fish & Wildlife Commission, in their efforts to establish this area as an Indigenous Protected and Conserved Area.”
– Jaime Battiste, Member of Parliament for Sydney–Victoria

“Today’s announcement is an example of the great things that can happen when the community comes together to support the environment. Biosphere reserves represent a deep dedication to sustainable development and nature conservation, and they set a standard for how people and nature can thrive together.”
– Lena Metlege Diab, Member of Parliament for Halifax West

“This funding from Environment and Climate Change Canada demonstrates a pivotal chapter in the history of the network and of the Canadian Biosphere Reserves Association. To use the words from the biosphere reserves themselves, this is a chance to renew partnerships, enhance capacity within the organization, and create more biodiversity outcomes in Canada’s nineteen UNESCO biospheres.”
– Kate Potter, Executive Director, Canadian Biosphere Reserves Association

“The Southwest Nova Biosphere Reserve Association has been striving to advance the understanding of the significance of the biodiversity, heritage and culture of Southwest Nova Scotia. This funding is creating more opportunities to do just that. Important achievements have already been made towards increasing protection for species at risk within the Biosphere because of this support, with more to come. It is giving a much-needed lift to our efforts at a critical time for our environment.”
– David Sollows, Board Chair, Southwest Nova Biosphere Reserve Association

“The mission of the Bras d’Or Lake Biosphere Region Association (BLBRA) is to improve balance in the Bras d’Or Lake Biosphere by encouraging community capacity building, conservation efforts, and sustainable development. This funding is supporting a project that will establish and protect areas of biodiversity to help safeguard the water source for Eskasoni and protect species-at-risk habitat. The BLBRA will work with Dalhousie University and the Eskasoni First Nation using a Two-Eyed Seeing Approach and continue to engage with the five Unama’ki (Cape Breton) Mi’kmaq communities, the five Cape Breton municipalities, and the many dedicated supporters and volunteers of the Bras d’Or Lake Biosphere.”
– Doug Foster, Program Manager, Bras d’Or Lake Biosphere Region Association

Quick facts

  • The Bras d’Or Lake Biosphere Reserve surrounds the rare inland sea system of Bras d’Or Lake, located in the middle of Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia. It supports at least 18 species listed on the Species at Risk Act, including the Canada warbler (threatened), wood turtle (threatened), and rusty blackbird (special concern).

  • The Southwest Nova Biosphere Reserve is located in a region of old growth and mixed Acadian Forest, occupying the counties of Annapolis, Digby, Yarmouth, Shelburne, and Queens in southern Nova Scotia. It supports over 40 species listed on the Species at Risk Act, including blanding’s turtle (endangered), boreal felt lichen (endangered), bobolink (threatened), little brown myotis (endangered), and monarch (special concern).

  • There are currently 738 biosphere reserves in 134 countries that belong to the World Network of Biosphere Reserves. There are about 257 million people living in biosphere reserves worldwide. In Canada, over 2.5 million people live in biosphere reserves.

  • Each of the biosphere reserves in Canada has a variety of funding sources, including federal, provincial/territorial, and municipal government grants, and donations from private foundations and individuals.

  • The Government of Canada has committed to conserving 25 percent of lands and inland waters in Canada by 2025, while working towards 30 percent of each by 2030. Canada is also committed to working to halt and reverse nature loss by 2030 (in Canada) and to achieving a full recovery for nature by 2050.

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Kaitlin Power
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Environment and Climate Change

Media Relations
Environment and Climate Change Canada
819-938-3338 or 1-844-836-7799 (toll-free)

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