08/01/2013 09:28 EDT | Updated 10/01/2013 05:12 EDT

Nova Scotia increases amount of land it vows to protect to 13 per cent by 2015

HALIFAX - The Nova Scotia government has increased its goal on the amount of land it intends to protect by 2015.

It released the Parks and Protected Areas Plan today, which aims to protect 13 per cent of lands by 2015, surpassing its previous goal of 12 per cent.

Environment Minister Sterling Belliveau says land purchases from 2009 to 2013 will protect more than 200,000 hectares of additional lands by 2015, designate 44 new wilderness areas and expand 31 other areas.

The plan also aims to create 118 new nature reserves and expand 11 more, while adding four new provincial parks and expanding 12 others.

Belliveau says Nova Scotia Mi'kmaq were consulted to ensure historically sensitive areas are protected and traditional activities can continue.

Environmental groups also welcomed the plan.

The Nature Conservancy of Canada hailed the move to expand protected land as historic and commended the government's consultation process.

The Nova Scotia Nature Trust says the protection goal would be a major achievement for Nova Scotia.

But the Mining Association of Nova Scotia says while there is a public good in protecting lands, the province's mining and quarrying industry would be hindered by the government's plan.