South West Nova

Southwest Nova represents the natural region of southwestern Nova Scotia. This encompasses the five counties: Queens, Shelburne, Yarmouth, Digby and Annapolis. The biosphere reserve comprises major landscapes of the province, which exist in a near-pristine condition with intact ecosystem structure, processes and functions. Located in the boreal needleleaf forest biogeographical region, it includes rolling plains, river plains, glacial plains, hills, drumlins and coastal cliffs. As a result of its unique southerly position in the Maritimes, the region contains significant disjunctive populations of Atlantic coastal Plain plant species, Blandings turtle (Emydoidea blandingi), ribbon snake (Thamnophis sauritus) and southern flying squirrel (Glaucomys volans).


Designation Date: 2001
Surface Area: 13,867 square kilometres
Administrative Division: Annapolis, Digby, Queens, Shelburne and Yarmouth Counties of the Province of Nova Scotia, Canada

Ecological Characteristics

The designation of the Southwest Nova Biosphere Reserve recognizes the importance of two large, contiguous protected areas in Southwest Nova Scotia, Kejimkujik National Park Historic Siteand the Tobeatic Wilderness Area, and of the potential in the broader region formulti-sector cooperation and sustainable development.

The five counties (Annapolis, Digby, Shelburne, Queensand Yarmouth) surrounding these parks are included in the designation on a voluntary basis, as determined by community interest and project development. Southwest Nova Scotia is a largely undeveloped, primarily rural area with ocean-side communities on three coasts.

The region has a diverse cultural heritage including Mi’kmaq, Black Loyalist, French and English historical communities. Southwest Nova is also an important ecological region with a National Heritage River, two large protected areas, rare coastal plain flora, and a number of endangered species.

The economy is natural resource-based with a primary dependence on forestry, agriculture, tourism, fishing, mining and natural gas extraction (recent). The intense promotion of tourism, especially eco-tourism, conflicts with visual aspects of ongoing clear-cutting of forests and proposed mining etc., and is a significant local issue. The out-migration of youth, and a general decline in population due to an increasing lack of opportunity also threatens.

Human Activities

  • Enjoying outdoor living
  • Protecting endangered species & our environment
  • Local Farm Markets  

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                                                                                               Last update: August 2015

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