Government officials gathered in a scenic forested area just off the Bonshaw Trail to announce 16 new parcels of land will now be protected under the provinces Natural Areas Protection Act (NAPA).

The new parcels total about 900 acres, almost half of which are in the Bonshaw trail area.  

Other parcels include  a salt marsh near Portage and hardwood forested areas in Trout River and Townshend.

The areas are significant for containing hardwood Acadian forest, old-growth forests and a pristine salt marsh area.

Kate MacQuarrie, the province's director of forests, fish and wildlife, says she hopes people get out and see the protected land.

Kate MacQuarrie

Kate MacQuarrie, the province's director of forests, fish and wildlife, says she hopes people get out and see the protected land. (CBC)

"We're protecting them for wildlife, but also the people of P.E.I. too," she said.

All the land was provincially owned, but the province says individuals can donate their own land and officials hope it's something that happens more in the future.

The designation means the lands are protected from any development or use that would harm their natural values.

50,000 acres of protected land

Biologists assess lands looking at ecological values such as the plants, animals or habitat found on the lands and then make recommendations to the province as to what should be protected.

The province hopes to have seven per cent of P.E.I. land designated with NAPA protection. Almost 50,000 acres of protected land are now covered, which is halfway to achieving the goal.

Protected land can be stripped of its status, but MacQuarrie says it can only happen if there is a strong reason for the public good and following public consultation. It's only happened once in the history of the province, during the highway re-routing project in Tryon.