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BioBlitz on Alton Gas pipeline route

A bioblitzer checks out a stand of second growth trees and a birds nest along the Alton Gas pipeline route near the Stewiacke River (Photo: Robin Tress).

A bioblitz is a biodiversity data collection tool where a group of people go to a particular area and identify as many living things as they’re able to do in a day. Along with the Ecology Action Centre and nearly two dozen volunteers we blitzed part of the Alton Gas natural gas pipeline route near the Stewiacke River (which connects to the Shubenacadie River). You can find maps of the project here.

The natural gas pipeline is planned to connect the gas caverns to the main natural gas line in the area. This new pipeline would cross several wetlands and go underneath the Stewiacke River. We chose to host our bioblitz in one of the wetland areas just north of the Stewiacke River. We’ve heard concerns from people in Sipekne’katik and surrounding communities that they want to be able to analyze the existing project documents, assessments, and government decisions making processes with good, first hand knowledge of the potentially impacted area. With that in mind, we hosted this event to give ourselves and the skilled volunteers that firsthand knowledge so we could critically engage with permitting and other decisions about this pipeline. 

The majority of our volunteers have biology and ecology backgrounds, and many have worked for consulting companies who do environmental assessments for major projects like the Alton Gas project. Engaging people with these skills in critically analyzing the Alton Gas assessments and permits adds a lot of strength to our movement, and gives us power within the government decision making process. We’ve been successful in building power in our people’s movement, and to have levers for action both inside and outside of the government brings us closer to having our voices and values respected. 

Even though biodiversity studies were done in the environmental assessment process, the field survey work was done between 2007-2013, and, especially in wetland systems, things can change significantly in 5-10 years. Updated ecosystem data are needed so we can continue to critically engage with government decision making around the Alton Gas project. 


We are still analyzing the data we collected last weekend and figuring out what further studies we think are appropriate to complete in the spring. We got really lucky with our timing – we completed our bioblitz just days before a thick blanket of snow covered most of Nova Scotia!


Big thanks to everyone who bundled up and spent a chilly day outside with us! Stay tuned to hear about future field studies that you can help out with!


Read more about the Alton Gas project here, and about the ongoing resistance here and here