Shunpiking Online has received a press release from the Ecology Action Centre regarding the Ship Harbour Long Lake Wilderness Area, which was featured in our May 2000 supplement, Last Call for Public Lands (Volume 5, Number 33). Two thirds of the area, located north east of Halifax-Dartmouth, is leased by the US multinational Neenah Paper (formerly Scott Paper)
AN EASTERN SHORE conservation group hopes that a new wilderness study it is releasing on the proposed Ship Harbour Long Lake Wilderness Area will help convince the Province to protect it. The proposed Wilderness Area spans 170 km2 of publicly-owned forests and lakes between Musquodoboit Harbour and Moose River Gold Mines. Part of the area was proposed for a National Park in the 1970s. The Nova Scotia Public Lands Coalition -- made up 50 conservation, recreation, and tourism groups -- has been advocating for the site's protection under provincial wilderness legislation since 1999.

Key findings of the study:

* A GIS (i.e., computer) analysis of road density and remaining intact forest patches found that the Ship Harbour Long Lake area contains the largest remaining unprotected wilderness in the Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM). Elsewhere, most of the forest in HRM is severely fragmented by logging roads and clearcutting.

* A longstanding provincial commitment to complete a protected areas network that captures Nova Scotia's landscape diversity is likely unachievable unless a substantial portion of the proposed Wilderness Area is protected. This is because the area contains unique combinations of ecosystems and landforms that are no longer in a natural condition anywhere else.

* Several old red spruce, white pine, and mixed conifer-hardwood stands were identified along Ship Harbour Long Lake and the Fish River. These forests are now rare in Nova Scotia.

* Protection of Ship Harbour Long Lake would link up two existing Wilderness Areas, creating a world-class backcountry canoeing destination the same size as Kejimkujik National Park, but with three times as many lakes. It would also establish Nova Scotia's first protected canoeing corridor to link interior lakes with the ocean.

* The Province should place a moratorium on forest harvesting and road building to keep the site intact until it makes a final decision on its status.

Several of these findings confirm the conclusions of preliminary assessments for the area conducted by both HRM and the provincial environment department in 2001.

"The future of Ship Harbour Long Lake has been up in the air for six years. This study confirms its provincial significance, and the Province now needs to get on with the designation," says Forest Watch spokesperson Barbara Markovits.

About two-thirds of the area is under a long-term logging lease with Neenah Paper which operates a pulp mill in Pictou County. Neenah Paper has agreed not to carry out any forestry activities in the area for at least the remainder of 2006.

Contacts: Barbara Markovits, Eastern Shore Forest Watch 845-2620 Kermit deGooyer, Ecology Action Centre (and study author) 446-6603

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