Dr. Jeremy Lundholm, Caitlin Porter, and their team have conducted years of research on coastal barrens across the province, including Owls Head Provincial Park.

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What are Barrens?

Barrens are a type of ecosystem characterized by harsh climatic and or edaphic [influenced by the soil] conditions, and by low shrub-dominated plant communities. These communities are largely composed of shrub species belonging to the heath family, Ericaceae, and the heath­like Crowberry family, Empetraceae.

Barrens Ecosystems in Nova Scotia: Classification of Heathlands and Related Plant Communities

Why Is This Important?

Coastal barrens are often misunderstood and undervalued. But research has shown that “coastal barrens in Nova Scotia, in general, cannot be considered low-diversity ecosystems.” (Oberndorfer and Lundhom 2009; Cameron and Bondrup -Neilsen 2013, Porter 2013). Owls Head Provincial Park, specifically “cannot reasonably be considered to be low in biodiversity,” Lundholm and Porter explain.

Dr. Jeremy Lundholm and Caitlin Porter have advocated for the preservation of Owls Head Provincial Park, based on their years of research. Their Report on the Ecological Importance of Owls Head Crown land, which they submitted to the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia, is also available to the public.

“In our opinion, the sale of the Owls Head Crown land property to a private golf course developer would destroy this ecologically important habitat if the developer carries out his proposal for the golf courses. The topography and geology of Owls Head is such that developing the proposed three golf courses on this property would require massive earthworks, which will destroy the native plant communities occurring on the property.”

Report on the Ecological Importance of Owls Head Crown land

An Ongoing Field of Study

Caitlin Porter, Sean Basquill, and Jeremy Luncholm authored a comprehensive technical guide about these unique ecosystems:
Barrens Ecosystems in Nova Scotia: Classification of Heathlands and Related Plant Communities

Their study was “conducted for the purposes of better understanding plant species and community diversity on coastal barrens.” (Report on the Ecological Importance of Owls Head Crown land)

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