Bras d’Or Lake Celebrates MaB’s International Year of Karst and Caves in Biospheres

Did you know that Unama’ki (Cape Breton Island) is home to some of the best remaining intact examples of rare gypsum karst ecosystems in North America? “Karst” refers to the distinctive terrain that develops over soluble bedrock and includes features such as sinkholes, caves, and springs.  Groundwater dissolves these soluble bedrock types, producing a highly irregular “egg carton” surface relief called karst.  In Nova Scotia, karst topography is usually associated with gypsum sites, although similar landforms have been observed over limestone and dolomite.  Gypsum karst areas are home to a number of rare and specialized plants such as the Small Yellow Lady’s Slipper and Ebony Sedge, and provide critical overwintering habitat for our resident endangered bat species.  These natural communities are globally uncommon and very rare in northeastern North America, but Nova Scotia, and the Bras d’Or Lake Biosphere region in particular, contains some of the continent’s largest and most widespread examples of these communities.  Click here for short video from the CaveMAB international network, introducing their 2021 “Together for Caves” campaign designed to celebrate the International Year of Caves and Karst as well as the 50th Anniversary of the UNESCO Man and Biosphere Program.