HALIFAX -- The Nova Scotia government is delaying an act that would give it more powers to protect biodiversity, including wild animals, plants and water species.

The Liberal government had planned to pass the bill this session, saying it lacked the authority or regulatory powers it needs to manage the province's biodiversity.

However, Lands and Forestry Minister Iain Rankin said Friday that the government recognizes the bill may require more work, and it's being sent back to committee.

The legislation as written would have given the government broad scope to create regulations to help manage threats to rare ecosystems and better protect wildlife against invasive species.

Rankin says the bill will still pass during the current government's mandate, but there will be more consultation with industry, private landowners and environmental groups.

Proposed measures in the bill would allow the government to prevent the import, selling or distribution of an invasive species, and prevent the destruction or disturbance of rare ecosystems and habitats.

Passing the bill was one of the Liberal party's election promises.

The existing bill would give the province the ability to create land management zones for set periods of time to support conservation efforts.

The legislation's current focus is Crown land, with possible regulations aimed at private land in the future.

The yet-to-be-drafted regulations will be key when it comes to defining which species need further protection and in setting out the minister's powers to issue emergency orders around land use.

Many of the details of the bill in terms of what species need further protection were also only going to be defined in regulation.

The Ecology Action Centre, the province's largest environmental group, has said the bill has been needed for a long time.

Its spokesman has said that if legislation had been in place two decades ago, the brown spruce longhorn beetle may not have been able to gain a foothold to ravage the province's spruce trees.

The European insect was discovered in Halifax in 1999, but has been established in Nova Scotia since at least 1990, according to Natural Resources Canada.