In 2014, the Province of New Brunswick designated 114,530 new hectares (1145.3 km2) of Crown Land and 1050 hectares (10.5 km2) of private land as Protected Natural Area. Close to 272,000 hectares (2720 km2) of New Brunswick Crown Lands are now conserved in Protected Natural Areas to help sustain biological diversity (biological diversity, or biodiversity, refers to life in all its forms and the ecosystems and natural processes that support this life). A total of 1850 hectares (18.5 km2) of private land are also designated as Protected Natural Area. This land is permanently protected in 202 Crown land sites and six sites on private properties.
The Protected Natural Areas land base was significantly increased on Crown land in an effort to better protect the natural habitats that support our plant and wildlife species and strengthen nature’s resilience to our use of land and resources.
The new sites on Crown land were largely selected through a scientific process developed in consultation with foresters, scientists and naturalists. Sites were identified based on their ecological value, while an attempt was made to avoid areas that are of priority for development or resource use. The science included an analysis of the following criteria:
- Distribution – An attempt was made to equalize the amount of protected land surfaces among the province’s natural regions.
- Composition – Specific natural features were targeted to maximize the ecological value of the Protected Natural Areas network. These included old forests, rare forest types, rare geological features, sites with a rich diversity of species, and sites with rare species.
- Configuration – The sizes and shapes of the Protected Natural Areas were chosen to maximize the amount of wildlife habitat while attempting to avoid land impacted by human activities.
In the fall of 2012, the Department of Natural Resources consulted with the citizens of New Brunswick on candidate Protected Natural Areas. Based on the responses received, a subset of sites was designated, which balances citizen support and issues that were raised.