Game sanctuary gets international boost

Darrell Cole
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Conference says isthmus, game sanctuary key wildlife areas

AMHERST - Efforts to increase protection for the Chignecto Game Sanctuary have received an international boost.

AMHERST - Efforts to increase protection for the Chignecto Game Sanctuary have received an international boost.

The Two Countries, One Forest conference in Montreal earlier this month brought forward research that says the Isthmus of Chigecto is a key area for wildlife migration between the game sanctuary and other wildlife habitats.

"It connects part of the whole region and without that connection the isthmus provides Nova Scotia is basically an island biologically," said Harry Thurston of the Cumberland Wilderness Group, who attended the conference.

"The sanctuary has been identified as a core area for biodiversity in the province and it's also been identified by this international group as being a prime conservation area. It becomes really important when you take into account the role of the isthmus as a key link with the rest of the region."

Founded in 2002, Two Countries, One Forest is a group of scientists, conservationists and funding agencies who responded to the need to ensure the long-term ecological, social and economic integrity of the northern Applachian and Acadian eco-region that includes the Maritimes and Quebec as well as areas of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and New York.

While he understands protecting the isthmus will be difficult in light of the development in that area, Thurston said there's still time to increase the protection on the game sanctuary.

"We need it upgraded to a wilderness area," he said. "It will make it a true sanctuary in that wildlife habitat will be protected."

The conference represents five years of scientific research with sound information, Thurston said, and he's confident that information will help his group's efforts.

"We've had good, positive meetings with both the ministers of environment and natural resources. They were pleased with our balanced approach and we're moving forward with our proposal to have a wilderness area while at the same time being aware of traditional uses," Thurston said.

Thurston remains confident the game sanctuary will eventually be made a wilderness area and he thinks people in government have recognized the area's importance.

"This conference is another means of recognizing how important it is for us to push ahead with what we're doing," he said. "We're going to continue talking to government and with the public and now we have these connections with the conservation community in both Canada and the United States."

Organizations: Cumberland Wilderness Group

Geographic location: Montreal, Nova Scotia, Northern Applachian Quebec Maine New Hampshire Vermont New York Canada United States

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