The Nova Scotia government says it plans to establish up to 20 new parks and protected areas, a pledge it says will achieve the government's goal of protecting 13 per cent of the province's land.

Environment Minister Gordon Wilson made the announcement today, adding that Canada's second-smallest province has become a leader in conserving unique habitats, coastline and biodiversity.

Wilson issued a statement saying the next step is a 60-day online consultation process.

Twelve of the sites will be subject to the formal consultation process, while the other eight sites were listed as "intended for protection."

The announcement came less than a week before Premier Stephen McNeil is expected to step down at a weekend leadership convention that will select a new party leader.

Since 2013, the province's Liberal government has protected more than 150 sites, including areas that provide habitat for Atlantic salmon, the endangered mainland moose and many species of migratory birds.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 2, 2021.