FREDERICTON (GNB) – The provincial government has launched the New Brunswick Nature Legacy Information Hub where provincial residents can nominate specific areas for protection and share information on areas under consideration to be protected.

The province has committed to doubling its protected and conserved land and freshwater from 4.6 per cent to 10 per cent, an area equivalent to 19 Fundy National Parks.

“The areas that we are protecting are rich in biodiversity and offer cultural, spiritual and aesthetic value that will assist in the maintenance of important ecological functions across our landscape,” said Natural Resources and Energy Development Minister Mike Holland. “We are working with Indigenous partners, conservation groups, stakeholders and the public to double the amount of protected and conserved land and freshwater in our province for future generations.”

Protected Areas are lands and waters set aside to allow nature to exist with minimal human interference. While people can continue to enjoy activities like hiking, camping and hunting within an established protected area, industrial activities and higher impact recreation is restricted.

Lakes, rivers, wetlands, and the forests that surround them provide clean freshwater and will be a focus of this work. Of note in the first set of candidate conserved areas being published today are sites which would expand upon the already established buffer zones around watercourses such as the Restigouche, Patapedia, Kedgwick, Upsalquitch, and the St. Croix rivers; maintaining water quality and habitat for species like the Atlantic Salmon. Provincial government planning takes into account that conserving forests and wetlands which influence rivers is an important part of building a climate-resilient landscape.

“The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society – New Brunswick Chapter is very enthusiastic about this project to protect substantially more of our cherished natural areas,” said Roberta Clowater, executive director of the chapter. “We are eager to work with New Brunswickers to help them protect the nature they love and need.”

Interested individuals are encouraged to visit the New Brunswick Nature Legacy information hub where they can learn more about the rivers, forests and species that are under consideration as candidates for protection. The site also offers an online survey to allow participants to share what they know about areas under consideration.

Submissions will be accepted until Jan. 31, 2021.