Rare gypsum karst forest in Cape Breton protected by NCC

Google Earth image of gypsum cliffs and forest at Cains Mt., C.B.

The Nature Conservancy of Canada announced yesterday that that it has “protected three extraordinary habitats totalling 274 hectares” in Cape Breton. Amongst them is a rare gypsum karst landscape at Cains Mountain, where 162 ha are being protected.

NCC’s Craig Smith described the area to CBC:

There are very steep gypsum cliffs, exposed gypsum cliffs, deep, deep, deep caverns and tunnels and cave systems under the ground”…Growing on top of the gypsum formations on Cains Mountain is a towering old Acadian forest, and the site supports about a dozen rare species.

The NCC acquired the property from David and Pam Newton who purchased the property 50 years ago but haven’t lived on it for several decades. Pam said “We’ve been approached by logging companies, and we just didn’t want that to happen.” So they “made the decision to hand it over to the Nature Conservancy to ensure its uniqueness is preserved.”

Read more: The beautiful gypsum cliffs now under protection in Cape Breton By Holly Conners, CBC News Posted: Oct 11, 2017.

A Big Thank-You to the Newtons and to the NCC!

For more about the ecology of gypsum landscapes in Nova Scotia, see
Evaluation of the Ecological Significance of Gypsum and Other Calcareous Exposures in Nova Scotia
A report to the Nova Scotia Crown Share Land Legacy Trust,April 2015 by David Mazerolle, Sean Blaney and Alain Belliveau of the Atlantic Canada Conservation Data Centre, Sackville NB. 167 pages. From the Intro:

Gypsum-associated natural communities are globally uncommon and very rare in northeastern North America. Nova Scotia contains the region’s largest and most widespread examples of these communities, despite the fact that its Windsor Group bedrock geology (which includes all provincial deposits of gypsum as well as deposits of limestone and other sedimentary bedrocks) only represents an estimated 5.5% of the total province area (see Figure 1). As a whole, Nova Scotia’s occurrences of gypsum-associated communities are therefore of global significance and of conservation concern. Areas of gypsum bedrock in the province are almost completely on private land, and are thus not well represented within the provincial protected areas system…Expansion of gypsum mining thus represents a major ongoing threat to gypsum-associated natural communities. Although gypsum karst areas are sometimes protected from forestry activities by their rugged sinkhole topography, wood harvesting is also a significant threat to all gypsum areas of gentler topography.

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