Chignecto Isthmus

The Chignecto Isthmus, connecting the provinces of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, is a vital piece of land which requires special conservation measures.

The Chignecto Isthmus is a narrow, 23 kilometre strip of land that joins mainland Nova Scotia to New Brunswick and the rest of the continent. The Isthmus has two distinct coasts – to the northeast is the Northumberland Strait and on southwest is the Bay of Fundy. The towns of Amherst, NS and Sackville, NB are located on the Isthmus itself. Springhill and Oxford NS are to the east, and Shediac, Dieppe and Moncton NB are located just to the west.

The Isthmus is an important transportation corridor with the Trans Canada Highway and inter-provincial railway crossing over it. It is also the only route for terrestrial wildlife to move in and out of Nova Scotia.

Without deliberate planning to conserve ecosystem connectivity, development on the Isthmus could restrict the natural movement of plants and wildlife across this important land bridge. 

Restricting movement and decreasing “ecological connectivity” could pose risks for existing wildlife populations, and will likely limit the ability of plant and wildlife populations to adapt to a changing climate. Fragmentation of natural habitats can be caused by the combined effects of transportation corridors, agriculture, residential development and intensive forestry management. There are currently no official efforts to coordinate these kinds of developments in ways that would consider wildlife movement across the isthmus.


The New Brunswick and Nova Scotia chapters of CPAWS have collaborated on a study that assessed the opportunities and challenges of conserving ecological connectivity on the Isthmus. This document provides background information and identifies some key areas where habitat conservation could be most effective.

We are promoting four main conservation strategies on the Chignecto Isthmus:

  • Progressive rural planning to identify important greenbelts and direct suburban and rural-residential development
  • Forest management planning to increase the amount of mature forest on the Isthmus and maintain natural corridors.
  • Identification and protection of sensitive sites, including the establishment of the proposed Missaguash Wildlife Area in Nova Scotia
  • Voluntary conservation easements or other stewardship arrangements on private land.

Further Reading

Chignecto Connectivity Report – A report written by CPAWS NB and CPAWS NS in 2005, outlining opportunities for conserving connectivity across the Chignecto Isthmus.  (Full report 5Mb)(Executive summary 470 kb)
Fact Sheet – The Chignecto Isthmus: Keeping it Connected (pdf)
Fact Sheet – Forest Fragmentation and Ecological Connectivity on the Chignecto Isthmus (pdf)