Nova Scotians have an additional 652 hectares of protected landwhere they can enjoy the province’s natural environment. Nine new parcels of land have been added to six of the province’swilderness areas. The lands are either within or adjacent tothese wilderness areas. They feature old forest, wetlands, lakes,rare plants and a waterfall. “Nova Scotia is a beautiful province and by protecting theseareas, we’re giving our residents and visitors the chance toenjoy this natural beauty,” said Environment and Labour MinisterKerry Morash. “We’ve done well to protect as many areas as wehave considering how much land in the province is privatelyowned, and we’re working at protecting more.” The province currently has 31 wilderness areas. They areprotected lands that Nova Scotians and visitors can use forresearch and recreation activities such as hiking, canoeing,kayaking, sportfishing and hunting. The department worked with landowners to acquire the additionallands for protection. The Nature Conservancy of Canada helpedacquire two parcels from Bowater Mersey Paper Co. Ltd. which wereadded to Tobeatic Wilderness Area. “We were delighted to work in partnership with the provincialgovernment and Bowater Mersey to ensure the protection of thesepristine areas of Nova Scotia wilderness for generations tocome,” said Linda Stephenson, Atlantic regional director of theconservancy. The additions have been made to Economy River, Lake Rossignal,North River, Terence Bay, Tobeatic and White Like wildernessareas. They bring the total amount of protected wilderness landto 286,302 hectares. Early in 2004, Nova Scotians were invited to comment on theproposed addition of the lands to wilderness areas. Comments wereall supportive. Government is currently in the process of designating two newwilderness areas — Gully Lake in Pictou and Colchester countiesand Eigg Mountain-James River in Antigonish and Pictou counties.Five new nature reserves are also in the process of beingestablished. About 8.2 per cent of land in Nova Scotia is protected throughprovincial protection efforts, national parks, national wildlifeareas and organizations like the Nature Conservancy of Canada.