HalifACT 2050: Act to Protect Owls Head Park

The Halifax Regional Municipality is to be commended; HalifACT 2050 is an exciting step forward. Thank you especially to Councillor Richard Zurawski for submitting a motion for a climate action plan.

Despite roadblocks from the provincial government, Regional Council is providing leadership on climate change. On January 29, 2019, Regional Council voted to declare a “climate emergency.” On June 23, 2020, they voted to turn that statement into action by unanimously passing HalifACT 2050: Acting on Climate Together Plan.

Cover Art by Emma Fitzgerald Art & Design

Regional Council is focusing on evidence-based decision making and long-term solutions. Their website says that the plan “guides efforts to reduce emissions by conserving energy and increasing access to clean energy sources.” The plan itself mentions the need to “[a]cquire more land to preserve natural areas and ecosystem health in alignment with the Green Network Plan.”

Save Owls Head supporters know that protecting more wilderness is integral to mitigating climate change. Natural ecosystems such as Owls Head’s wetlands and offshore eelgrass beds are vital carbon sinks (they absorb and store carbon, which keeps it from further warming our planet). Long-term solutions rely on (and should explicitly include) the ecosystem services gained through land conservation.

Conservation and Climate Action – A Perfect Pairing

We will not succeed in addressing climate change if we do not protect and enhance the natural environment we depend on for survival. Natural areas like forests and wetlands produce oxygen, filter the air we breathe, clean our drinking water, hold flood waters, regulate climate and absorb carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas. Valuing these important functions economically is critical to their consideration in decision-making. Natural capital allows for this analysis, defined as “the stock of natural resources (finite or renewable) and ecosystems that provide direct or indirect benefits to the economy, our society, and the world around us.” By assigning value to things like flood control and climate regulation, these natural assets can be considered more meaningfully in cost benefit analyses and decision-making.

HalifACT 2050: Acting on Climate Change Together

Halifax Green Network Plan

The 2018 Halifax Green Network Plan not only identifies Owls Head Park as parkland but also illustrates an “essential ecological corridor” between Owls Head Park and Tangier Grand Lake Wilderness Area. Also known as a green corridor or wildlife corridor, these connecting spaces are essential for our wildlife and biodiversity.

These corridors can mitigate certain effects of habitat fragmentation. Enabling individual animals to move between protected areas allows them access to more resources, increases biodiversity (by preventing inbreeding), and reduces zoonotic diseases.

Click to enlarge the images.

It is imperative that Owls Head Park retains its RPK (regional parkland) zoning designation.

What is your vision for a well-adapted, low-carbon Halifax in 2050?  Please join us in the climate conversation. 

Halifax Regional Municipality

They are accepting feedback from citizens. Please let Regional Council know that you’d like Owls Head Park to remain a park, as outlined in Halifax’s Green Network Plan.

Email address: climate@halifax.ca
Subject: HalifACT web inquiry

Sources:

HalifACT 2050 – Acting on Climate Together (PDF of just the plan)

HalifACT 2050 – Acting on Climate Together (full PDF)
The plan starts on page 24 of the PDF

HalifACT 2050 Information – Halifax Regional Municipality Page

Halifax Green Network Plan (PDF)

Halifax Green Network Plan Information – Halifax Regional Municipality Page

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