Why is Owls Head Provincial Park Worth Saving?

Owls Head Provincial Park is a biodiverse property with undisturbed coastal heathlands, salt marshes and bogs, a freshwater lake, estuaries, and over 5 miles of coastline. It is bordered by offshore eelgrass beds and is home to several species of conservation concern. Click on any of the icons to learn more.

Globally Rare Ecosystem

Owls Head Provincial Park has a globally rare plant ecosystem!

Biologists who've studied the broom crowberry ecosystem caution, "If our province does not make an effort to protect this species, there will be no other opportunity elsewhere to protect it.”

High Biodiversity

Coastal heathlands add diversity to the mostly forested landscape of Nova Scotia and provide habitat for rare species.

Owls Head Provincial Park has biodiverse bogs and salt marshes, with significant species richness and variation.

Endangered Species Habitat

These ecosystems support species at risk, including the endangered barn swallow.

Part of the shoreline is included in the province's significant habitat database for nesting piping plovers.

Scientists from CPAWS NS recently recorded a sighting of an endangered leatherback sea turtle offshore!

Important Carbon Sink

Owls Head Provincial Park features extensive wetlands, which absorb & store carbon. This ecological service is critical in the time of the climate crisis.

The offshore eelgrass meadows can absorb up to 35 times more carbon than trees can!

Eco-Tourism Benefits

Owls Head Provincial Park could offer kayaking, hiking, and coastal access while preserving the environment as part of the 100 Wild Islands Tourism Advancement Partnership.

Incredible Eelgrass Beds

Eelgrass meadows provide important habitat for hundreds of marine species, including lobster, crab, and herring. This contributes to biodiversity and helps our fisheries.

The ecosystem services (benefits) it provides have been estimated at $20,000 per hectare, per year.

Recreation & Conservation

A private valuation (assessment) concluded that the "highest and best use" of the property would be for recreation and conservation.

Coastal Access

Only ~5% of Nova Scotia's coastline is public and protected. Owls Head Provincial Park has over 5 miles of coastline.

Dangerous Precedent

If the secret delisting and sale of Owls Head Provincial Park are allowed to proceed, it will put ~125 parks awaiting designation at risk across the province. In many cases, citizens have no idea that these “parks” aren’t formally protected.

Park(s) in Peril

In March of 2019, the provincial government secretly removed Owls Head Provincial Park from Our Parks and Protected Areas Plan. They did this in order to enter into a Letter of Offer with a private developer, who wants to develop 2-3 golf courses and a residential community. Biologists warn that this would mean “complete destruction” of the site’s ecological values.

Despite the property’s 45-year history of promised protections, the provincial government delisted Owls Head Provincial Park without consulting with – or notifying – the public. The government also failed to consult with the Mi’kmaq of Nova Scotia (even though this is unceded land).

If the secret delisting of a park property is allowed to proceed, it would jeopardize  ~125 parks awaiting designation across the province. 



A Better Way Forward:

Short-Term Goals:

» Convince the government to withdraw from the Letter of Offer
» Obtain formal designation (legal protection) for Owls Head Provincial Park.

Long-Term Goals:

» Complete the Eastern Shore Seaside Park System
» Make the Eastern Shore a nature tourism destination
» Protect all properties from Our Parks and Protected Areas Plan in perpetuity 
» Develop an Indigenous-led education strategy for Owls Head Provincial Park
» Enhance access to the coast (only 5% of Nova Scotia’s coastline is public and protected)
» Protect public land for future generations through conservation science, meaningful public consultation, and transparent governance.

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What our supporters say:

Scientists and citizens recognize the importance of Saving Owls Head Provincial Park
Sydnee Lynn McKay

Sydnee Lynn McKay

Facebook Group Founder

"Thousands of Nova Scotians have joined the movement. They’re concerned about the park, the process, and the precedent.”

Chris Trider

Chris Trider

Former Park Planner & Group Co-leader

"Once Owls Head Provincial Park is sold and developed, its ecological integrity cannot be restored. To me, as a landscape architect, these ridges and their plant communities are a priceless natural heritage landscape that should never be so senselessly destroyed."

Dr. Kristina Boerder

Dr. Kristina Boerder

Marine Biologist

"Eelgrass meadows provide critically important ecosystem services, including supporting our fisheries, helping to prevent coastal erosion, and storing carbon. The UN has even declared eelgrass meadows a “secret weapon” in the fight against climate change."

Caitlin Porter

Caitlin Porter

Research Biologist, Ecology of Plants in Communities Lab, St. Mary's University

"Our years of data reveal that Owls Head is ecologically unique and of importance to biodiversity conservation.

The impacts [of development] would be complete destruction of those important ecological features."

Chris Miller

Chris Miller

conservation biologist and executive director, CPAWS NS

"It's a place where conservation values and nature need to come first and human and economic development is only within the context of protecting those values."

Bob Bancroft

Bob Bancroft

Wildlife Biologist & Legal Case Applicant

"I believe Owls Head Provincial Park contains a globally rare coastal ecosystem that is home to several species of conservation concern."

Jamie Simpson

Jamie Simpson

Attorney in the Legal Case

“Roughly half of what we think of as Nova Scotia’s provincial parks are not technically a provincial park and the exact same state that befell Owls Head could potentially happen."

World Wildlife Fund Canada

World Wildlife Fund Canada

Leading conservation organization

"This ecologically important coastal wetland habitat is also home to several endangered species, including the piping plover, with eelgrass beds surrounding the headlands of the park providing vital coastal habitat."

Colin Stewart Forest Forum

Colin Stewart Forest Forum

Collaborative Report

"Most Tier 1 areas are truly irreplaceable, meaning that they represent the last opportunities to fill particularly critical gaps in the protected areas network, or to capture highly significant ecological features.”

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