Under the Protected Areas Act and by regulation, Cabinet can create a Protected Natural Area to protect biodiversity and the natural environment by conserving and managing lands that:
- Are representative of natural ecosystems throughout New Brunswick;
- Contain unique relationships between plant and animal species;
- Provide habitat for rare or endangered native species;
- Contain ecologically sensitive species or habitats;
- Feature unique or rare botanical, zoological, or geological phenomena;
- Offer opportunities to study ecosystem recovery; and/or
- Provide opportunities for low-impact outdoor recreation, educational activities, and scientific research.
A Protected Natural Area can be either a Class I Protected Natural Area or a Class II Protected Natural Area:
It is important to note that a Class 1 Protected Natural Area does not provide for the exercise of Indigenous harvesting rights. A Class 1 Protected Natural Area designation is an unlikely pathway for an IPCA.
The level of public consultation required before creating a Protected Natural Area is dependent on its size. For example, if the proposed Area is 750 hectares or less, then the Minister of Natural Resources and Energy Development (“the Minister”) can decide on the level of public consultation they believe to be necessary. If the proposed Area is greater than 750 hectares, then the Minister must begin consultation based on the requirements set out in the regulations.
On the Minister’s recommendation and by regulation, Cabinet can change the boundaries of, or cancel, a Protected Natural Area if “the lands are no longer suitable for the purpose of this Act.”
Before changing the boundaries of a Protected Natural Area, the Minister must conduct the level of public consultation they believe to be necessary.
Before cancelling a Protected Natural Area that is greater than 750 hectares in size, the Minister must begin consultation based on the requirements set out in the regulations.
The Minister is responsible for managing Protected Natural Areas.
The Minister can enter into an agreement with “one or more persons” to protect and manage a Protected Natural Area.
The Minister can also establish a Local Advisory Committee to provide community input and advice regarding the protection and management of a Protected Natural Area.