NS House of Assembly Bill 4: The Biodiversity Act
There has been a great deal of discussion and concern about Bill 4: The Biodiversity Act now before the Nova Scotia House of Assembly. The NSORRA Board of Directors has taken the time to read and understand the impact of this bill on our members and partners. We have also reached out to stakeholders and other partner organizations for information and a greater understanding.
NSORRA supports the protection of biodiversity in Nova Scotia, however we believe this can be achieved with existing legislative tools. We were concerned this bill could lead to landowners, who generously allow us to use their land, to withdraw permission in order to limit their risk resulting from the initial bill.
Changes to the Biodiversity Act
On March 23, the NS government introduced changes to Bill 4 - The Biodiversity Act to address concerns from provincial stakeholders and to ensure collaboration remains a key focus.
The changes remove biodiversity emergency orders, offences and fines from the Act, and limit the scope to Crown lands unless permission is given on private lands.
The Act allows the province to work with private landowners in a voluntary fashion to develop biodiversity management zones on their properties. The voluntary aspect of the proposed changes aims to help build trust in the new Act.
According to a news release from the province, "This legislation was always intended to be collaborative, with all parties working together to protect and sustainably manage biodiversity," said Lands and Forestry Minister Chuck Porter. "We are proud to be able to bring in a Biodiversity Act, and we are determined to get it right."
The next step in the legislative process is law amendments, where the committee will hear further feedback from stakeholders and individuals. The Act is expected to pass into legislation on October 1, 2021.
Consulting with our members
During the consultation period, NSORRA intends to speak to the concerns of our membership, to maintain access to trails, and to continue to have conversations with our stakeholders and the government. NSORRA believes in a balanced ecosystem including the responsible use and management of trails by the OHV community.