In 2014 the province consulted with agricultural and environmental stakeholders in the development of the Southern Land Management Strategy, an initiative that balances economic growth with responsible land management.
The strategy offers agriculture lessees the opportunity to purchase certain parcels of Crown land previously designated under The Wildlife Habitat Protection Act (WHPA) while ensuring ecological values stay protected. Amendments have also been made to The Conservation Easements Act to create a new form of easement called a Crown conservation easement, which can be applied to Crown lands prior to sale.
All land designated under WHPA in the south was evaluated using a science-based assessment tool and classified into three categories based on its ecological value, approximately:
- 1.7 million acres has high ecological value and will be retained under WHPA protection and will not be sold;
- 1.3 million acres has moderate ecological value and may be eligible for sale with the protection of a Crown conservation easement; and
- 525,000 acres has lower ecological value and may be available for sale without restrictions.
Vacant Crown land in the south will be assessed as well, and land with high ecological value will be considered for protection under WHPA.
Lessees can find out their land classification by searching their lease on the Search Crown Land web page.
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