Canada conserving species at risk habitat in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia

From: Environment and Climate Change Canada

Protecting nature is an essential part of addressing biodiversity loss and fighting climate change. Here in Canada, and around the world, we need transformative action to conserve our natural environment now and into the future.

Today, the Member of Parliament for Sydney-Victoria, Jaime Battiste and the Member of Parliament for Cape Breton-Canso, Mike Kelloway, on behalf of the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, the Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, announced that the Government of Canada has invested $1.2 million over four years to conserve 350,000 hectares in the Bras d’Or Lakes watershed. The project, titled “Maliamuki’k msit Ko’kmanaq”, which means “Taking care of all our relations”, will protect habitat for terrestrial species at risk in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia.

This funding, provided through the Canada Nature Fund’s Community-Nominated Priority Places initiative, enables partners to advance the conservation of habitat vital to the survival of 18 listed Canadian species at risk such as the Common Nighthawk (Pi’jkw) and Wood Turtle (Mikjikj).

The project, led by the Unama’ki Institute of Natural Resources (UINR), will aim to improve the quality of the ecosystem for the benefit of Unama’ki communities and all their relations. The project helps identify hotspots for species at risk in Unama’ki and educates the public on local species at risk, and conserves important species at risk habitat. As with all of UINR’s work, this project has a “Two-Eyed Seeing” approach, with equal value placed on the scientific research as well as the knowledge shared by Elders and local knowledge holders.


“By working together with local communities, we are working towards conserving biodiversity, enabling the recovery of species at risk, and ensuring that Indigenous people are meaningfully engaged in conservation. My congratulations goes out to the Unama’ki Institute of Natural Resources in leading this collaborative effort.”

– Jaime Battiste, Member of Parliament for Sydney-Victoria, Nova Scotia

“In Cape Breton-Canso, we are fortunate to be surrounded by nature. We need to do our part to conserve it and that means protecting the 18 species at risk, including Canada Warbler and Wood Turtle. If we want to fight climate change and protect the ecosystem in Cape Breton and northeastern Nova Scotia, conservation is critical. This on-the-ground work led by the Unama’ki Institute of Natural Resources showcases what can be achieved for Canada’s biodiversity through passion, collaboration and hard work.”

– Mike Kelloway, Member of Parliament for Cape Breton-Canso, Nova Scotia

“The Mi’kmaq have been stewards of this land for thousands of years. We were the original caretakers of this land and understood that we are all connected and interdependent with the land and all our relations. We look forward to working in collaboration with our partners to bring this perspective and understanding to species at risk recovery efforts in the Bras d’Or watershed.”

– Chief Rod Googoo, We’koqma’q First Nation

“The concept of Msit Nokmaq or All our Relations is woven through this conservation project to remind us that we are interconnected with all aspects of our natural world. It is the inherent responsibility of Indigenous people, and indeed all humans, to be the eyes, ears and voice for all species.”

– Mi’kmaq Elder Albert Marshall, Eskasoni First Nation, and UINR’s Elder Advisor

Quick facts

  • The project focuses on identifying key habitats and species hotspots using existing data and then filling information gaps by monitoring the land and working with traditional knowledge holders. The public will be engaged through social media campaigns highlighting the significance of species at risk on the lands and through management plans that will be developed and distributed to improve land management practices.

  • In the first year of the project, a Wood Turtle (Mikjikj) was spotted in a section of a stream that has never had a documented turtle sighting, and Yellow-banded Bumblebees (Amu) have been counted in numbers that were higher than expected.

  • Project partners include: Atlantic Canada Conservation Data Centre, Cape Breton Private Land Partnership, Cape Breton University, Bras d’Or Lake Collaborative Environmental Planning Initiative, Mi’kmaw Kinamatnewey, Nature Conservancy of Canada, Pitu’paq, Port Hawkesbury Paper, and NS Department of Lands and Forestry, Environment and Climate Change Canada – Canadian Wildlife Service, Atlantic Region.

  • Through Budget 2018, the Government announced $1.35 billion for the Nature Legacy initiative. This amount represents the largest investment in nature conservation in Canadian history.

  • Canada Nature Fund’s Community-Nominated Priority Places for Species at Risk is a $15.6 million, 4-year funding initiative administered by ECCC to support community-led projects that protect and conserve species at risk.

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