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Nature Conservancy of Canada Announces Largest Private Land Conservation Project in Atlantic Canada

Over 5,000 acres of key habitat protected in Digby County, Nova Scotia

Halifax, NS – The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) has announced the largest private conservation project ever in Atlantic Canada. NCC has acquired 5,077 acres (2,055 hectares) of significant habitat in the Tusket River Headwaters area of Digby County, Nova Scotia.  A news conference was held today with funding partners to help celebrate this major  achievement.  

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 portions 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 addition to J.D. Irving, Limited, the Tusket River Headwaters Project  was made possible through funding support from the Government of Nova Scotia through the Department of Environment, the Nova Scotia Crown Share Land Legacy Trust and the Government of Canada from the Natural Areas Conservation Program.

“This is a special place. As headwaters to one of the most threatened and significant river systems in the Province and home to several species at risk, this site is of significant ecological value,” said Craig Smith, Nature Conservancy of Canada Program Manager 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”.

 “We value the long-standing partnership we have with Nature Conservancy of Canada which is based on sound scientific research and collaboration,” said James D. Irving, Co-Chief Executive Officer of J.D. Irving, Limited.  “We have worked for some time with NCC to protect areas of ecological significance in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick and are pleased to help with the permanent protection of the Tusket River Watershed.  These efforts are in addition to our company’s voluntary Unique Areas program and old forest conservation efforts that today account for over 1,100 sites including old growth forest areas.” 

“Protecting the province's ecologically valuable lands is a gift we give to ourselves today, and to our children and grandchildren in the future,” said Premier Darrell Dexter. “Nova Scotia is pleased to join the Nature Conservancy of Canada, J.D. Irving and Environment Canada in protecting the plants and wildlife, including species at risk, that call the Tusket River Headwaters home.”

“This landmark project marks another achievement under our Government's Natural Areas Conservation Program,” said  the Honourable Peter MacKay, Regional Minister for Nova Scotia. “With this investment, we are taking real action to protect and conserve our country’s ecosystems for present and future generations.”

“The Tusket River Headwaters project has several conservation values that help sustain habitat for wildlife and various species,” said Karen Beazley, Chair of the Nova Scotia Crown Share Land Legacy Trust.  "This is another major achievement by the Nature Conservancy of Canada in Nova Scotia that preserves unique areas that people share a connection with.  We are pleased to join NCC and other partners in taking conservation action for both today and for future generations”.


  •  These waterbodies provide habitat for the threatened snapping turtle, American eel and brook trout and protection of their shoreline will help maintain downstream water quality. Surrounding forest lands provide habitat for other species at risk, including the olive-sided flycatcher, Canada warbler, common nighthawk and chimney swift.   Endangered mainland moose are occasionally seen in the area. The site also has potential for breeding waterfowl  including the American black duck, Wood duck and Common mergansers.
  • NCC is pleased to be preserving an area with rich human history. It is connected to the settlement of New France, which  in the 1890’s included a saw mill complex established by the Stehelin family.  Their settlement, known as Electric City, was located at the north end of Langford Lake where it meets the Silver River.
  • Access will be permitted for recreational uses such as hiking, canoeing, fishing, hunting and trapping. NCC will share information with area residents in the coming days and weeks on how everyone can take pride in and help be good stewards of this special protected area.

Learn More:
The Nature Conservancy of Canada is the nation's leading land conservation organization, working to protect our most important natural areas and the species they sustain. Since 1962 NCC and its partners have helped to protect more than 2.6 million acres (over 1 million hectares), coast to coast. The Nature Conservancy of Canada has conserved 30,821 acres (12,473 hectares) in Nova Scotia. For more information visit:

The Government of Canada’s Natural Areas Conservation Program is a $225 million investment to assist non-profit, non-government organizations to secure ecologically sensitive lands to ensure the conservation of our diverse ecosystems, wildlife, and habitat. The Nature Conservancy of Canada has been entrusted to lead the program and has committed to raising matching funds for each federal dollar received.

Media Contacts:

Andrew Holland, Communications Director-Atlantic Region, Nature Conservancy of Canada
1-877-231-4400, 506-260-0469 (mobile),