Job cuts at Environment Canada will weaken environmental protection in Nova Scotia, the Ecology Action Centre warns.

Mark Butler, the centre's policy director, said about 80 jobs will disappear from Environment Canada's Dartmouth office, including jobs related to protecting air and water quality.

"Environment Canada is already down on the ground and bleeding, and this is just another kick to the body," Butler said.

"As long as you breathe air and drink water and enjoy nature you should be very concerned about these cuts."

Unions representing scientists and support staff at Environment Canada said between 700 and 800 positions are disappearing across the country. Meteorologists, chemists and biologists are among those facing the axe.

Mark Johnson, a spokesman for Environment Canada in Ottawa, said 300 positions will be eliminated, mostly through retirements.

"Environment Canada has taken a hard look at its spending to make sure it deals with priorities," he said in a statement to CBC News.

The department would not confirm the number of job losses in Nova Scotia.

Tony Clement, president of the Treasury Board, said Environment Canada's decision to reduce staff is not part of the Conservative government's initiative to slash billions of dollars from government programs.