What Natural Resources Does Nova Scotia Have in Abundance?

what natural resources does nova scotia have in abundance cover

Despite being a smaller province, Nova Scotia plays a significant role in Canada’s economy and global resource markets. Known for its rugged coastlines and picturesque landscapes, Nova Scotia possesses a wide array of natural resources including food, fish, energy, minerals, wood and more that it shares with Canadians and the world!

The province’s history in natural resources spans longer than Canada is old and has provided jobs and prosperity to local families for well over a century. Whether it’s the rich abundance of ground minerals, vast forested landscapes or plentiful oceanic seafood, Nova Scotia does its part in providing the world with the resources it needs to live and thrive.

Below we have compiled several facts showing you just what natural resources Nova Scotia has in abundance and how the Atlantic province contributes immensely to the livelihoods of tens of thousands of Canadians. Also, see:

Agriculture in Nova Scotia

30 percent of Nova Scotia's land surface area is classified as prime agriculture land

Agriculture is a foundational industry for Nova Scotians, employing more than 6,000 people on average. With nearly 30% of its land having an  “agricultural” classification, Nova Scotia is well-positioned to meet the food demands of Canadians and contribute its fair share to feeding the world.

While Nova Scotia is well-known for its world-renowned fishing and aquaculture industry, the province is also home to a thriving agricultural sector. Agricultural practices in Nova Scotia generated over $608 million in 2019, with over 60% coming from livestock.

The province's main agricultural region, the Annapolis Valley, boasts favourable conditions for growing fruits, vegetables and grains. The valley is well known for its apple orchards, while blueberry farms flourish across the province.

Quick Facts

#1 – In 2019, Nova Scotia’s farm cash receipts were over $608 million. More than 60% of this figure is made up of livestock and livestock products (1)

#2 – Nova Scotia farms employ roughly 6,500 workers (1)

#3 – 29% of Nova Scotia’s land is classified as agricultural (1)

#4 – Since 2005, farmland in the province has increased in value by an average of 4.8% annually (1)

#5 - $37 million is invested into the industry annually by the province of Nova Scotia and the government of Canada through provincially delivered programs (1)

Mining in Nova Scotia

Mining is yet another job-creating, prosperity-generating industry in Nova Scotia as it is home to a diverse array of geological formations. Coal, salt, sand, gypsum and gold are just a few examples of the minerals and metals found in the province, all building blocks for construction, road maintenance, electronics and more.

Nova Scotia’s mining industry has been providing for its residents for over 300 years, longer than Canada has been a nation. Getting its start in gold extraction, the sector has flourished into one of the economic foundations of Nova Scotia.

Coal has been, and continues to be, a vital resource in the mining industry of Nova Scotia, but also in meeting the electricity needs of its residents; Over half of Nova Scotia’s electricity was generated from coal in 2018.

Quick Facts

#1 – Roughly 5,500 people are employed in the mining industry of Nova Scotia (2)

#2 – Mining adds $420 million to Nova Scotia’s economy each year (2)

#3 – Mining is the highest-paying natural resource industry and is amongst the highest-paying of all industries in the province (2)

#4 – Nova Scotia has a storied history in mining spanning over 300 years, supplying over 20 different mineral products to domestic and foreign markets (3)

#5 – Nova Scotia is currently home to 10 active mining operations (3)

Forestry in Nova Scotia

75 percent of Nova Scotia's land surface area is covered by forests

With 75% of its land covered by forest, the forestry sector is a thriving part of Nova Scotia’s economy and a critical sector for regional families. Forestry is considered by many to be the backbone of the province’s economy, supporting more than 3,000 jobs for Nova Scotians with nearly $25 million in wages and salaries in logging alone. Forestry and related industries (wood manufacturing, pulp and paper, etc.) contributed over $240 million toward real GDP in 2021.

Home to a diverse range of tree species, Nova Scotians can harvest softwood and hardwood, each manufactured into different end-use products. Following the guidelines of organizations like the Canadian Standards Association, the forestry industry in Nova Scotia meets the most stringent environmental and social standards.

Quick Facts

#1 – Nova Scotia’s forestry industry contributed over $240 million to real GDP in 2021(11)

#2 – Logging provided nearly $25 million in wages and salaries to its workers in 2020 (12)

#3 – 3,255 people were employed in the forestry and related sectors in 2022(10) 

#4 – Amongst the good-producing industries in Nova Scotia, forestry products ranked second in terms of employment in 2015 (4)

#5 – Nova Scotia’s forests span over 4 million hectares, which equates to 75% of the province’s land surface area (4)

Energy in Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia’s energy needs are met through a variety of sources including wind, hydro, natural gas and coal. Nova Scotia Power, the provincial electric company, provides jobs for about 2,000 Nova Scotians.  

The province is making meaningful strides in the transition to cleaner forms of power, as it is the only jurisdiction in North America to have tidal electricity generated on a commercial scale.  With provincially legislated renewable targets, the province is expected to be operating on 80% renewable electricity by 2030 as it gradually phases out coal-fired power plants.

Quick Facts

#1 – In 2018, Nova Scotia generated 55.8% of its electricity from coal (8)

#2 – Nova Scotia is home to the only commercial-scale tidal energy facility in North America (8)

#3 – The provincially legislated renewable energy targets require that at least 40% of its electricity is generated from renewable sources (8)

#4 – Nova Scotia Power employs roughly 2,000 people (9)

#5 – By removing coal, Nova Scotia is working towards 80% renewable electricity by 2030 (9)

Aquaculture in Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia is responsible for 27 percent of Canada's total seafood exports every year

As Canada’s top seafood exporting province, it is no surprise that the seafood industry is a cornerstone of Nova Scotia’s economy. As global demand for seafood continues to rise, Nova Scotians are well-positioned to be a leader in supplying both domestic and foreign markets. With cutting-edge standards for quality and sustainability, Nova Scotian seafood is often considered some of the finest in the world.

Employing over 16,000 workers, the fishing and aquaculture industry of Nova Scotia is amongst the biggest supporters of the provincial economy. Exports equate to nearly $2.5 billion annually and are sent to all Canadian provinces and 62 countries worldwide. Astonishingly, 84% of these exports are made up of shellfish which include crab, lobster, scallops and more.

Quick Facts

#1 – Accounting for more than 27% of Canada’s seafood exports, Nova Scotia is the nation’s number one exporter (5)

#2 - The seafood industry employed 16,280 Nova Scotians in 2018, providing $865 million in salaries and wages (13)

#3 – In 2021, Nova Scotia’s seafood exports were valued at $2.47 billion (13)

#4 – Nova Scotia exports seafood to 62 countries worldwide, with the US and China making up 76% of export value in 2021:

> $1.2 billion to the United States (13)

> $666 million to China and Hong Kong (13)

#5 – In 2021, total commercial landings (sea creatures caught/harvested) were valued at over $1.68 billion (6)

#6 – Shellfish comprises 84% of total seafood exports (13)

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1. Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture. (n.d.). Home. Retrieved from https://nsfa-fane.ca/ Accessed on June 2023.

2. The Mining Association of Nova Scotia. (n.d.). Home. Retrieved from https://tmans.ca/ Accessed on June 2023.

3. Invest Nova Scotia. (n.d.). Nova Scotia Mines a Rich Future. Retrieved from https://investnovascotia.ca/articles/nova-scotia-mines-rich-future. Accessed on June 2023.

4. Forest Nova Scotia. (2016). Economic Impact Report. Retrieved from https://forestns.ca/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/FNS-Economic-Impact-Report-Gardner-Pinfold-Dec-2016.pdf Accessed on June 2023.

5. Government of Nova Scotia. (n.d.). Right Here in Nova Scotia. Retrieved from https://novascotia.ca/righthere/ Accessed on June 2023.

6. Fisheries and Oceans Canada. (2021). Landings. Retrieved from https://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/stats/commercial/land-debarq/sea-maritimes/s2021pv-eng.htm#table5-fna Accessed on June 2023.

7. Fisheries and Aquaculture, Government of Nova Scotia. (n.d.). Commercial Fisheries: Industry Overview. Retrieved from https://novascotia.ca/fish/commercial-fisheries/industry-overview/ Accessed on June 2023.

8. Canadian Energy Regulator. (n.d.). Canada's Renewable Power - Nova Scotia. Retrieved from https://www.cer-rec.gc.ca/en/data-analysis/energy-commodities/electricity/report/canadas-renewable-power/provinces/renewable-power-canada-nova-scotia.html Accessed on June 2023.

9. Nova Scotia Power. (n.d.). Who we are. Retrieved https://www.nspower.ca/about-us/who-we-are June 2023.

10. Statistics Canada. (n.d.). Table 36-10-0489-01. Retrieved from https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/t1/tbl1/en/tv.action?pid=3610048901 Accessed on June 2023.

11. National Resources Canada. (n.d.). Forestry Economic Impact - Nova Scotia. Retrieved from https://cfs.nrcan.gc.ca/statsprofile/economicimpact/NS Accessed on June 2023.

12. National Resources Canada. (n.d.). Forestry Employment - Nova Scotia. Retrieved from https://cfs.nrcan.gc.ca/statsprofile/employment/NS Accessed on June 2023.

13. Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture, Government of Nova Scotia. (n.d.). Seafood Industry Facts and Figures. Retrieved from https://novascotia.ca/fish/documents/seafood-industry-facts-figures.pdf Accessed on June 2023.

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