Pugwash Estuary, NS (Photo by NCC)

Pugwash Estuary, NS (Photo by NCC)

Pugwash Estuary

Pugwash Estuary, Nova Scotia (Photo by NCC)

Pugwash Estuary, Nova Scotia (Photo by NCC)

A jewel in the crown in Atlantic Canada

As a focal region for the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) in Nova Scotia, the Pugwash River Estuary is a mixture of forest and marsh that borders some of the most sought-after oceanfront property in Nova Scotia. Sheltering prime habitat for waterfowl ranging from Canada geese to green-winged teals, Pugwash is truly a spectacular and valuable conservation area.

Pugwash at a glance

  • located in Cumberland County in rural Nova Scotia, 200 kilometres northwest of Halifax;
  • the largest estuary along the Northumberland Strait of Nova Scotia, particularly unique in that it exhibits a largely undeveloped shoreline;
  • NCC currently protects 11 properties here, totaling 1,030 acres (417 hectres);
  • The area features diverse habitats, ranging from nutrient-rich salt marshes to sandy beaches that encircle some of the warmest waters north of the Carolinas.

Conservation values

  • The area is home to the endangered piping plover and Barrow's goldeneye, a species at risk.
  • The region is a prime staging and migration route for an incredible variety of waterfowl, including American black duck, Canada goose, great blue heron and green-winged teal.
  • The estuary is a blend of forests, salt marshes, beaches and islands.
  • Twenty-seven species of shorebirds, including semipalmated sandpiper and willet, pass through the region during spring and fall migrations.


The Northumberland Strait is a prime area for coastal development. The Pugwash region is commonly referred to as cottage country, boasting warm ocean water and many of the most spectacular beaches in Nova Scotia.

The delicate Pugwash Estuary ecosystem, which remains largely untouched, is home to a wide variety of sensitive waterfowl and many special biological features. If development continues unchecked, the unique flora and fauna of the region could be jeopardized.

Our vision for the Pugwash River Estuary

NCC has worked to build a large land assemblage that protects important upland and wetland habitat. By creating a buffer between the coastal development and the forests, marshes and beaches inhabited by many species of waterfowl, NCC is conserving the unique and balanced ecosystem of the Pugwash Estuary.

Through securing additional land and continued stewardship with tremendous volunteers and strong partnerships with local organizations, NCC will actively maintain and protect this beautiful piece of Atlantic Canada.


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