Nova Scotia’s newest nature reserve is now officially designated to protect more of the area’s ecological features, wildlife and natural heritage. The province had announced in May its intention to designate certain Crown lands within the Blandford Game Sanctuary, Lunenburg County, as the Blandford Nature Reserve. That designation has been approved by the province. The Blandford Nature Reserve is now protected under the Special Places Protection Act, which is overseen by the Department of Environment and Labour in co-operation with the Department of Natural Resources. The act offers the province’s highest level of protection for plants and wildlife. The province now has 17 nature reserves. The new nature reserve protects 320 hectares of Crown land, including a rare coastal jack pine ecosystem and a number of provincially rare plant and lichen species. Development activities such as forestry and mining are prohibited and access is restricted to visitors on foot. Creating the new nature reserve moves the province closer to its goal of legally protecting 12 per cent of Nova Scotia’s land by 2015.