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UNESCO Sites in Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia boasts five UNESCO designated sites, several are so close together you can explore them all in a few days. To be recognized as a UNESCO site, these locations have to be universally significant. Nova Scotia is proud to be included in the company of other outstanding places such as the Pyramids of Egypt and the Great Barrier Reef in Australia.

The Landscape of Grand Pré

In 2012, The Landscape of Grand Pré in the picturesque Bay of Fundy & Annapolis Valley region became Canada’s 16th UNESCO World Heritage Site. The 13 square-kilometre (5 mi²) site includes acres of tended farmland that pay homage to the dyke system first built by 17th century Acadian settlers on land reclaimed from the sea. The area is also the scenic setting for American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s narrative poem Evangeline: A Tale of Acadie. Learn about the Acadian Deportation at the Grand Pré National Historic Site which is located within the area designated the Landscape of Grand Pré UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Explore this area, bordered by lush farmland and prolific vineyards producing award-winning wines and discover wine tours and tastings, local farmers' markets, and restaurants that provide the delicious opportunity to combine a fascinating cultural and culinary experience.

Old Town Lunenburg

The Old Town Lunenburg UNESCO World Heritage Site weaves its own special spell taking visitors back to the 18th and 19th centuries when this fishing port bristled with tall ships. Vividly coloured historic homes line streets banked sharply up from the harbour which is home to Bluenose II Nova Scotia's famous sailing ambassador. The bustling Lunenburg waterfront is alive with industry, architecture and artisan shops that showcase the character of this historical port. Tour on foot or via horse-drawn carriage throughout the town, chat with local residents, taste some Lunenburg pudding, and learn about lobsters, rum running and tales of adventures on the high seas at the Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic. Plan to stop by the blacksmith's shop, now operating as Ironworks Distillery, a micro-distillery where you can sample some fine spirits and rums.

Joggins Fossil Cliffs

On Nova Scotia’s Bay of Fundy coast, the Joggins Fossil Cliffs have long attracted scientists, visitors and geology enthusiasts from around the world, for over a hundred and fifty years. It was selected as a UNESCO World Heritage site because it’s the world’s most complete record of life in the Carboniferous era. You can stroll the beach for a glimpse of life on earth 300 million years ago. With over 15kms of coastal cliffs, you can explore the fossil record of life in the “coal age”, when lush forest covered Joggins as well as much of the rest of the world. Plants, footprints, insects and the ancestors of the dinosaurs are all represented in fossils exposed by the amazing force of the world’s highest tides. The interpretive centre showcases fossils of plant and animal life and offers guided tours.

Bras d’Or Lake Biosphere Reserve

Surrounded by rolling hills and dotted with islands, the Bras d’Or Lake UNESCO Biosphere Reserve is the heart of Cape Breton Island. Subtle tides, rare instances of fog, and hundreds of sheltered coves and secluded beaches, make the Bras d’Or Lake ideal for boaters. Offering a unique blend of both fresh and salt water, the Bras d’Or Lake is also home to a variety of marine and bird life—making it a great location to view bald eagles and herons.

The diversity of the area doesn’t stop at the waters’ edge. The extensive watershed is home to Mi’kmaq First Nations, descending from the five original Mi’kmaq bands, as well as descendants of early French, Scottish, and English settlers. The communities within the Biosphere maintain close ties to the culture of their ancestors.

In 2011, the Bras d’Or Lake and its watershed area were designated a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve - recognizing that the area residents live in harmony with nature and work to promote a healthy environment, economy and culture.

Whether you charter a sailboat in St. Peter’s or Baddeck, paddle the inlets of Baddeck Bay, hike to Uisge Ban Falls, take part in a Mi’kmaq cultural journey, or join a Ceilidh or milling frolic at the Highland Village, embrace the beauty and living culture of this tranquil area.

View the Bras d’Or Lake Biosphere Reserve's overview video on YouTube for more information about this unique environment.

Southwest Nova Biosphere Reserve

The Southwest Nova Biosphere Reserve, one of the largest in Canada with over 1.5 million hectares of picturesque coastal and inland terrains, is globally recognized for its unique natural biodiversity and cultural treasures. The Biosphere Reserve’s “core protected area” includes Kejimkujik National Park and Historic Site, the Dark Sky Preserve and Starlight Zone, and the Tobeatic Wilderness Area. The surrounding Biosphere “Zone of Cooperation” features Atlantic coast beaches, rocky headlands, North Mountain, the mighty Bay of Fundy with the world’s highest tides, and pastoral Annapolis Valley.

Within the Biosphere you can learn about 10,000 years of Mi’kmaq history, hike and paddle wilderness routes, and hear stories about whales, tall ships, pirates and privateers, turtles and trout, and travel scenic roads and view graceful loyalist architecture typical of many communities including Shelburne, Yarmouth, Digby and Annapolis Royal. The cultural heritage within the biosphere includes beautiful coastal Acadian towns, museums and churches in the Districts of Clare and Argyle, and African Nova Scotian history in Birchtown while to town of Annapolis Royal and nearby tidal basin reflect the amazing development of Canadian history.

To learn more about the Southwest Nova Biosphere Reserve, visit the Biosphere website and download the web app.