Land Base

Also view Historic Afforestation

Some data and some calculations pertaining to increasing protected areas in NS to 30% of the landbase (from 14% existing or quasi-committed-to currently)

One complication, it’s not always clear when figures for land area include inland waters and when they do not, however that’s a relatively small component and won’t affect the general magnitude of these estimates much.

From State of the Forest Report 2016 Asterisked values are my estimates.

Component Area or % of total land base
Total land base 5,525014 ha
Private 59% or ~*62.0% with inland waters
Provnce 33.6% or ~*35.1% with inland waters
Federal 2.8% or ~*2.9% with inland waters
Inland water 4.2%

From HPF Discussion Paper

Component Area in hectares
Gross Crown Landbase (Forested and Non-Forested) 1,854,000
Anthropogenic Non-Vegetated 14000
Converted (Anthropogenic Vegetated) 2000
Converted (Anthropogenic Vegetated) 2000
Triad Total Landbase (TLB) 1,824,000
Current, Committed Conservation (Provincial) 630,000
Ecological Matrix 862000
HPF 333,000

If we assume that 14% of the NS landbase is currently protected or committed to be protected, that leaves 16% needed – 0.16 x 5,525014 ha = 884,002 ha to reach 30% protected.

If that additional 16% is to come out of Crown lands, it would have to come from lands assigned above to the Ecological Matrix (which includes non-forest and non-working forest lands) and the HPF (High Production Forestry) components, which total 1,195000 ha.

884002 ha/1,195,000 ha x 100= 74.0%. So 74% of Crown lands not now protected would be have to protected to reach 30% protected area in total, leaving in principle 26% to forestry at best or  310,998 ha.

What is the area of “working forest” now? All of the lands assigned to the HPF component of the Triad in the table below above (331, 000 ha) are working forest. For the Ecological Matrix, the working forest, based on the figures below includes Marginal Productivity Sites unsuitable for HPF (261,000 ha) + Tolerant Hardwood & Mixedwood/intolerant Hardwood on Rich Sites (95,000 ha) = 356000 ha. So the total working forest is estimated as 331,000 ha + 356,000 ha = 687000 ha

From HPF Discussion Paper


The need to include a large component of  existing old forest in the new protected areas  To protect old forest biodiversity. currently greatly diminished by extensive clearcutting AND to maintain a high level of carbon storage in our forests,  the new protected areas would have to include a large component of  existing old forest (i.e. late mature and multi-aged old forest layers in the Provincial landscape Viewer):

Distribution of forest in 5 development stages across Nova Scotia, compiled from NS Landscape Map Viewer. Purple = Multi-aged/Old Forest. View larger versions of the map: 2000 px | 4000 px.
(You may have to Save the larger image and open it on your device to view at full size).

More or less (and mostly more), the purple patches in the map above are also the forest stands with the highest wood volumes and likely correspond fairly well to many of the potential,  high productivity, HPF  sites cited in the HPF Discussion Paper.   So clearly HPF could not be a major component of the 310,998 ha left for forestry.

So the land still available for forestry after assigning  Crown lands to the additional 16% needed to reach 30% protection would be approx. 45% (310,998/687000 x100) of that available as the ‘working forest landbase’ currently.

These are back-of-the-envelop calculations performed to gain some sense of  how much of our existing Crown lands would have to put into protected areas to achieve 30% protection for the province as a whole. In practice that would likely involve identifying a set of larger intact areas rather than a large number of small patches (e.g. such as wildlife habitat buffers)  which is implicit in the tabulation above.

View Forest management (Nova Scotia)(federal website) for amount of land harvested. Latest figure listed is 31,151 ha for 2018; 2019 and 2020 likely higher as there were some restrictions while the Lahey Report was in progress. In 2016, 34,075 ha (both private and Crown lands).

Source: Profile of Agricultural Land Resources in Nova Scotia
Prepared by:
Michael Devanney, Economist
Nova Scotia Department of Agriculture June 2010

Overview of land resources

Lands most suitable for agricultural production (Canadian Land Inventory (CLI) classes 2,3 and 41) cover slightly less than 30 percent of Nova Scotia’s land area (see Table 1). The province’s best arable land (CLI2) accounts for 3 percent of the land area, while CLI3 and CLI4 cover 18 and 8 percent, respectively. This land is not necessarily used for agriculture and may instead be used for urban development, for other economic uses, or exist in a forested/natural state.
1. Nova Scotia does not have any CLI class 1 soil. Class 2 to 4 soils have moderate to severe limitations that restrict the range of crops or require special conservation practices or both. Class 5 soils and below have very severe limitations for agriculture.

Approximately 235,000 hectares are used for agriculture (including blueberry production) as indicated by the ALIP project in 1998, amounting to 4.3 percent of the province’s area (Figure 1b). Agricultural land as identified by DNR forest inventory data amounts to approximately 229,000 hectares with a further 16,500 hectares estimated to be in wild blueberry production.

Land with suitability for agricultural production is concentrated in the Annapolis Valley, throughout most of Hants County, and along the Northumberland Strait. There are also significant concentrations in Digby and Yarmouth counties, in southern Inverness and around the Cape Breton Regional Municipality.

Usage of arable land and composition of farmed land
Approximately 13 percent of land most suitable for agricultural production (CLI classes 2, 3 and 4) is used for agriculture in Nova Scotia. Slightly less than 1 percent of this land is also used for wild blueberry production. Urban development takes up 5.4 percent of CLI 2,3,4 and the remaining 81 percent is in some other use (natural forest or other natural state, cultivated forest, etc).