The Pugwash Estuary Nature Reserve (photo by Mike Dembeck)

The Pugwash Estuary Nature Reserve (photo by Mike Dembeck)

Pugwash Estuary

Pugwash Estuary, Nova Scotia (Photo by NCC)

Pugwash Estuary, Nova Scotia (Photo by NCC)

A conservation jewel

The Pugwash Estuary Nature Reserve is one of the Nature Conservancy of Canada's (NCC's) largest protected areas in Nova Scotia. Located on the Northumberland Strait, the reserve is a mix of forest, salt marsh and untouched coastline. It provides habitat for two dozen species of shorebirds and many species of waterfowl, such as Canada goose and green-winged teal. The nature reserve is a popular destination for birders and hikers and features a well-maintained trail, located at 2169 Crowley Road.

Pugwash Estuary Nature Reserve at a glance

  • Located near the village of Pugwash, about 200 kilometres northwest of Halifax.
  • Largest estuary in Nova Scotia along the Northumberland Strait, featuring a mainly undeveloped shoreline.
  • Made up of 15 properties, totalling 550 hectares (1,358 acres), assembled over 20 years.
  • Features diverse habitats, including extensive salt marshes, sandy beaches and Acadian forest.

Conservation values

  • The region is an important stopover site for an incredible variety of waterfowl, including American black duck, Canada goose, great blue heron and green-winged teal.
  • 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, as it boasts warm ocean water and many spectacular beaches. NCC is actively working to protect more habitat for wildlife surrounding the Pugwash Estuary, a delicate ecosystem that is still mainly untouched.

Our vision for the Pugwash River Estuary

Thanks to our donors and partners, NCC has built a large conservation area around the Pugwash Estuary that protects important coastal forest and wetland habitat.

By securing additional land, continuing our stewardship with volunteers, and maintaining strong partnerships with local organizations, NCC is actively working to protect this beautiful part of Atlantic Canada.


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Funding provided by Environment and Climate Change Canada