Nature lovers will not have to wander far from the city to experience pristine protected wilderness, according to an announcement from Environment Minister Sterling Belliveau yesterday.

The minister said that 20,000 acres of Crown land on the Chebucto Peninsula south of Hubley is being considered as Nova Scotia’s newest protected area under the Wilderness Areas Protection Act. If approved, the land will be known as the Five Bridge Lakes Wilderness Area.

Belliveau made the announcement at an event celebrating last month’s designation of the Ship Harbour Long Lake Wilderness Area, a newly protected area on the Eastern Shore. Belliveau said the plan to protect Five Bridge Lakes had been in works for some time.

“The work has been ongoing, and that’s why I acknowledged the former minister of the environment (David Morse),” Belliveau said. Morse was in attendance at the celebration, as was his predecessor, Mark Parent.

“This is a lot of work that’s been going on for a number of years, and people have put their concerns forward, and here we are today,” Belliveau said.

Public consultations with interested parties will be held to determine the area’s boundaries before it can become legally protected. Belliveau said the timeframe depends on those discussions.

“I think that’s going to be up to the individual stakeholders,” he said. “I encourage all stakeholders to make their views known … Ship Harbour Long Lake is a classic example of how people work together (for) the common good.”