Amendments to the Special Places Protection Act were passed in the House of Assembly on Monday, May 16. The changes make it easier to designate nature reserves for Nova Scotians to enjoy. “Passing these amendments will help us meet commitments in our green plan to protect more of Nova Scotia’s natural environment,” said Kerry Morash, Minister of Environment and Labour. “They’ll make it easier for us to designate new nature reserves that Nova Scotians will enjoy for generations to come.” Nature reserves preserve and protect typical and special ecosystems, plants and animals. They also offer research and education opportunities. The province has 11 nature reserves totalling 3,180 hectares. With the amendments, management plans are no longer required before nature reserves are designated. Instead, management plans will be developed as necessary, such as for highly visited nature reserves that may need special measures for protection. The amendments re-establish the special places advisory committee with an updated membership structure. The committee will provide advice on all aspects of nature reserves. It is no longer required to help develop management plans. Instead, the committee will assist when requested. “These changes streamline our process for designation,,” said Mr. Morash. “This simpler approach is much more attractive to land owners who are interested in offering their natural treasures to be protected as nature reserves for Nova Scotians to enjoy.” About 8.2 per cent of land in Nova Scotia is protected through the combined efforts of the provincial and federal governments, and organizations like the Nature Conservancy of Canada and the Nova Scotia Nature Trust. All of Nova Scotia’s nature reserves are described on the department’s website at www.gov.ns.ca/enla/pareas .