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 coastal eelgrass beds and is home to several species of conservation concern.
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.”
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.
These ecosystems support species at risk, including the endangered barn swallow, Canada warbler, and piping plover.
Recently, CPAWS NS recorded an endangered leatherback turtle near the shore!
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 coastal eelgrass meadows can absorb up to 35 times more carbon than trees can!
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.
Coastal 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 and Conservation
A private valuation (assessment) concluded that the “highest and best use” of the property would be for recreation & conservation.
Only ~5% of Nova Scotia’s coastline is public and protected. Owls Head Provincial Park has over 5 miles of coastline.
There are over 100 other properties awaiting legal protection – like Owls Head Provincial Park was before it was secretly delisted.
It’s no wonder that Owls Head Provincial Park is identified as a Tier 1 (top priority) conservation property.
“Tier 1 areas are those of highest priority and conservation value […] 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.”Colin Stewart Forestry Forum Final Report
More Information on the park’s ecological values:
- Owls Head Science Reports 2021
- Report on the Ecological Importance of Owls Head Crown land by biologists Caitlin Porter and Dr. Jeremy Luncholm
- Barrens Ecosystems in Nova Scotia: Classification of Heathlands and Related Plant Communities by Porter, Basquill, and Lundholm (Owls Head Provincial Park on page 38)
- Letter from Scientists at St. Mary’s University (Caitlin Porter & Dr. Jeremy Lundholm)
- Avian Diversity at Owls Head Provincial Park
- We Must Protect Owls Head Provincial Park to Safeguard Biodiversity
- Owls Head Provincial Park Protection Values Sheet by the Province of Nova Scotia
- Letter from Dr. Karen Beazley Dalhousie Institute for Resource and Environmental Studies
- Letter from Dr. Elisabeth Kosters
- Letter from the NS Wild Flora Society
- Ecologically and Biologically Significant Areas in the Atlantic Coastal Region of Nova Scotia
A Closer Look at the Marine Ecosystems: