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Natural Resources Environmental Technology

Prepare for a career in the natural resources sector with a focus on environmental sustainability.

Kieran, a Natural Resources Environmental Technology program grad, sits on a rocky shoreline and fills a container with water
Kieran, an NSCC NRET grad, works to protect, discover and experience the woods, waterways and natural environments of Unama'ki.
Start Date:
Typical Length:
2 Years

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Sustaining our natural resources, so they can be used and enjoyed by present and future generations, is critical to the health of our environment.

This program combines practical and theoretical skills to prepare you to work in the environmental and natural resources sector. To keep pace with the increasing requirements of environmental technology workers, all courses are presented from an environmental sustainability perspective. You spend a considerable amount of time participating in outdoor labs. You also develop an integrated resource management plan from start to finish – design, data collection, data compilation and recommendations to improve habitat.

Work experience

  • Field experience is a mandatory credit course, providing you with the opportunity to apply your knowledge and skills outside of the classroom.
    • Opportunities are typically unpaid and last approximately 5 weeks.
  • This program is eligible for an optional cooperative education (co-op) credit course between year one and two.
    • Co-op provides an opportunity for paid, full-time employment in a field related to your program.
    • Co-op takes place in third term and must be a minimum of 12 weeks and 420 hours.
    • Our co-op program follows Co-operative Education and Work-Integrated Learning Canada (CEWIL) guidelines.
  • Transportation, accommodations and other costs related to work experience are your responsibility.
  • For more information, visit work experience opportunities.

Choose NSCC

  • Faculty are experienced in both theory and field work and have developed professional relationships with employers and industry.
  • You learn the latest practices and technologies that employers require. The program is designed with the input of industry leaders to ensure you get current and relevant skills.
  • You experience practical hands-on learning in the classroom, shop and extensive fieldwork.
  • This program is accredited with the Canadian Environmental Accreditation Commission (CEAC), a standing committee of ECO Canada. CEAC accreditation means that this program has met national standards for environment programs.
  • This program places a high importance on providing you with skills and knowledge to work safely in industry. You participate in a number of introductory safety awareness courses to prepare for employment.

Other info

  • Some travel is required and varies based on your specific program plan. Additional costs include meals and accommodation.
  • This program is designed to prepare the successful graduate for participation in real workplace situations; therefore, a good deal of the delivery and skill development occurs outdoors. Individuals in this industry should be in good physical condition and be prepared to work in a variety of weather conditions.
  • Most jobs require a valid driver's licence and access to a vehicle.
  • Many employers in this industry require a current, official criminal record check as part of the hiring process. A conviction on your criminal record may impact your ability to secure employment.
  • This program has been recognized by the Canadian Institute of Forestry (CIF), the voice of forest practitioners in Canada.
    • Graduates are eligible to receive a CIF Silver Ring, which signifies a commitment to the highest possible industry standards.


Seats are available for domestic applicants only. International applicants will be waitlisted.

September 2024

Campus Full time/part time Delivery Availability
Lunenburg Campus
Full time In person
Delivered in-person. Some courses may have online elements.
Strait Area Campus
Port Hawkesbury
Full time In person
Delivered in-person. Some courses may have online elements.
Truro Campus
Full time In person
Delivered in-person. Some courses may have online elements.

Admission requirements

  • High School Graduation Diploma or equivalent.
    • International students – High school diploma equivalency and English language requirements vary by country. View details

Program requirements

  • Portfolio development – As part of your studies at NSCC, you develop a portfolio of your work. Your portfolio captures your achievements and profiles your skills to employers.


Tuition amounts are for the 2023-24 academic year. Program costs and fees (textbooks, supplies, etc.) are additional.

Tuition (Domestic):
Tuition (International):

Tuition, fees and program costs

In addition to annual tuition, there are program costs (books, tools, etc.) and student fees for College services, health and dental plans, your student association and parking.

View detailed program fees page(s). Please note that amounts on these pages are meant for planning purposes only. They don't represent final amounts owing.

Career options

  • Graduates have many opportunities for careers in the environmental and natural resources sectors. They are employed with community organizations, government agencies, environmental consulting companies, engineering firms and forest management companies.

Future study options

Courses may include

These are some of the courses offered in this program. It is not a complete list and courses are subject to change in advance of the academic year.

Recognizing prior learning / transfer credits
If you have previous learning (course, employment, etc...) that's relevant to your program, you may be able to apply to earn credit. Not all programs are eligible. Learn about our recognizing prior learning (RPL) process.

COMM 1245 - Technical Communications I
This course introduces students to the writing, oral presentation, critical thinking and interpersonal communications skills required of technical professionals in the workplace. The fundamentals of clear, concise writing and presenting will be reviewed and refined. Experience will be gained in organizing, writing and presenting technical information. In addition, career development skills and portfolio preparation will be discussed. There will be several opportunities, through assignments and lab work, to develop portfolio components. Students will learn how to collect appropriate work samples and documentation from other courses in the program as well as from other sources.

COMM 2245 - Technical Communications II
This course focuses on the interpersonal, written and oral technical communication skills necessary for working independently and as part of a team in a technical environment. Further skill development in written forms of technical documentation required for the workplace as well as report creation and oral presentation skills will continue to be emphasized. Team building principles, group dynamics and collaborative writing will be discussed. Students will participate in meetings and take responsibilities in a group project from its inception to completion and evaluation. Students will continue to enhance and apply their research skills and project management principles will also be introduced. Successful job interviews and the portfolio will be discussed.

COMP 2110 - Spreadsheets I
This course introduces the student to electronic spreadsheets including their design and creation. Formulae and functions will be used to perform calculations on the spreadsheet data providing business solutions. Students will apply formatting skills to enhance the appearance and clarity of printed spreadsheets as well as using graphs to represent spreadsheet data. This course is accepted toward certification with the Canadian Institute of Bookkeeping (CIB).

INDG 1000 - Mi’kmaq Traditional Knowledge Connections in Science
This course offers the learner a chance explore Mi’kma’ki and Mi’kmaq to better understand the land and its people, gain an understanding of Mi’kmaq traditional knowledge and to implement Mi’kmaq traditional knowledge in the field.

NRET 1010 - Environmental Assessment
This course introduces learners to the practice of Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and the Environmental Site Assessment (ESA). Learners will explore key components of each process, review case studies, and the applicable provincial and federal laws.

NRET 1021 - Navigation I
This course reviews basic forest navigation skills using aerial photographs, digital imagery, hand compasses and various maps as used in basic orienteering. Learners will go on to gain knowledge and experience in photo interpretation and delineation of regular, irregular and natural boundaries and features. The data collected from interpretation and field verification will be used in the preparation of operational maps. Learners will be introduced to GPS to complete field exercises. Field exercises and data uploading using Global Positioning Systems (G.P.S.) is introduced including waypoints, tracks and routes.

NRET 1121 - Applied Mathematics II
Technologists in our field require practical math skills in a variety of applications. This course is tailored to continue building on skills gained in Applied Mathematics I and that are relevant to the natural resource and environmental sectors. Students gain project-based experience in data collection, analysis and presentation.

NRET 1122 - Introduction to Forest Ecosystem Management
This course introduces learners to forest ecosystem management at the stand and landscape level. Topics include primary and secondary forest succession, conducting and compiling forest inventory surveys, introduction to forest entomology and pathology and sustainable forestry practices and applicable Nova Scotia laws and Regulations.

NRET 1123 - Applied Mathematics I
This course is designed to review basic math skills and introduce formulas consistent with natural resource industries. Students develop the skills with calculations to determine ratio and proportion, slope, percentages, Pythagoras Theorem, area, and volume.

NRET 1124 - Introduction to Forest Ecosystem Classification
This course introduces the learner to the Forest Ecosystem Classification system used in Nova Scotia and produced by Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources and Renewables. The classification of forest ecosystems through vegetation and soil types along with site attributes allows the environmental manager to recognize similar ecosystem units on the ground. Management interpretations for all units help make management outcomes more predictable and sustainable. This course includes a considerable field component.

NRET 1125 - Watershed Management I
Water quality and quantity are not only an essential part of human activities but are one of the best indicators of environmental health. This course provides an introduction to the components of freshwater ecosystems. Students explore the water cycle and basic hydrology. They are also introduced to water quality sampling, water quantity measurement, and stream invertebrates. Field-based activities develop students' understanding of stream and river characteristics, aquatic habitats and in particular critical fish habitat. Students also explore riparian zone management, including stream classifications and watercourse legislation in Nova Scotia.

NRET 1126 - Fish and Wildlife I
Atlantic Canada has a rich variety of fish, mammals and birds to become familiar with and must be considered in the context of resource management. This course introduces the learner to common freshwater fishes and terrestrial mammals and birds of Atlantic Canada.

NRET 1127 - Introduction to GPS and GIS
This course continues to build on the skills acquired in Navigation I. Learners will gain comprehensive knowledge and experience in the theoretical and practical use of hand held GPS units and mobile GIS applications. Data collected from field exercises will be used to produce a variety of mapping projects using ArcGIS and Google Earth software.

NRET 1700 - Applied Ecosystem Management
This course involves project-based learning and serves as a capstone for the theory and applied skills in the first year of study. Learners work independently and in small groups throughout the project. The work performed involves balancing the human needs and pressures reflected through industries such as tourism, agriculture, forestry, mining and land development, with the conservation and preservation of natural resources, forest lands, parks and natural reserves, and the flora and fauna within them. The course emphasizes integration of socio-economic and environmental factors to ensure ecological health and sustainable development.

NRET 3010 - Public Outreach
This course introduces students to strategies and techniques required for planning, facilitating, delivering, and assessing of a variety of public education, engagement and awareness programs.

NRET 3100 - Work Experience I
This course provides an overview of the operational requirements of a small resource based company. The subject matter involves; businesses registration categories, components of a business plan, funding sources, statutory payroll deductions, Workers Compensation Board coverage, as well as an introduction to the fundamentals of accounting, employee interviews and dispute resolution strategies.

NRET 3101 - Habitat Science I
This course introduces learners to basic habitat requirements and the concepts of structure and function within an ecosystem. Topics such as threats to habitat, carrying capacity, population dynamics, environmental resistance and sustainability are explored. Species that require special management are introduced.

NRET 3103 - Quality and Environmental Management Systems
Quality Management Systems (QMS) and Environmental Management Systems (EMS) are important pillars of corporate responsibility. They are based on standards which specify a process of continual improvement and compliance with legislation. Learners will explore each system from design to implementation, including the audit phase required for registration. This course involves team-based learning activities and case studies drawn from industry.

NRET 3104 - Environmental Science
Environmental Sciences involve the subjects of biology, chemistry, physics, geology and geography. This course is designed to introduce learners to issues and problems impacting the Earth’s environment. Through classroom instruction, field exercises and independent projects, learners will examine and evaluate foundational earth science topics and assess current events in environmental science.

NRET 3110 - Entrepreneurship
This course provides an overview of the operational requirements of a small resource based company. The subject matter involves; businesses registration categories, components of a business plan, funding sources, statutory payroll deductions, Workers Compensation Board coverage, as well as an introduction to the fundamentals of accounting, employee interviews and dispute resolution strategies.

NRET 3114 - Climate Change
This course introduces learners to the issue of global warming and climate change. The difference between climate change and global warming, the complexity of the science of climate change and the implications of climate change on natural and human systems are studied. International negotiation such as the Koyoto Protocol will be evaluated. The Environmental Goals and Climate Change Reduction Act is used as a case study for social planning. Each learner will research and report on either a technological or social policy solution to aid in the reduction of green house gas emissions.

NRET 3115 - Statistics
This course introduces learners to fundamental concepts of statistics. Measures of dispersion, distribution curves, confidence intervals, hypothesis testing, linear regression and variable correlation are included in the learning. The collection of environmental data for analysis is incorporated into the learning activities. The environmental industry requires the collection and subsequent analysis of various data sets for monitoring, assessment and decision making. Therefore the environmental practitioner should have a working knowledge of how the collected data is to be analyzed and reported.

NRET 3116 - Environmental Sampling
This course introduces learners to tools and procedures for sampling our environment, with a focus on flora, fauna, air, soil and water conditions. Quality control for field sampling procedures and equipment decontamination procedures are also discussed. The creation of short technical reports by learners represents a significant component of the course.

NRET 3200 - Work Experience II
The work experience component provides the learner with an opportunity to apply new skills and concepts appropriate for entry-level positions within the occupation. Learners will assess their own performance and be evaluated by an industry partner. Learners will identify personal outcomes they wish to attain during the work experience and will keep a journal.

NRET 3201 - Habitat Science II
As a continuation of Habitat Science I, this course introduces learners to the ecosystem management concepts of (i) emulating natural disturbance levels and events and (ii) coarse and fine filter landscape level planning. Biodiversity, species richness, connectivity and fragmentation will all be explored. Applications of conservation theory will be assessed through field study of a variety of land management in Nova Scotia.

NRET 3220 - Environmental Law and Compliance
This course examines the basics of the legal system, environmental law and approaches to compliance and enforcement. The subject matter includes the role, origin and the judicial structure in Canada. The structure and intent of several Nova Scotia Acts and the Canadian Impact Assessment Act is explored. A variety of approaches used for compliance and enforcement are reviewed to understand how law is applied. The roles and responsibilities of the public and of employees in these processes are highlighted, including the topic of professional ethics.

NRET 3303 - Geographic Information Systems
This course offers learners a hands-on introduction to geographic information systems and applications with a specific focus on natural resource and environmental data and analysis. Learners use ArcGIS software to create and edit geographical data. Concepts include an introduction to coordinate systems, datums and projections, file management, GPS data collection and integration into the GIS, database management, data editing and transfer, georeferencing, thematic map design and map production, geodatase creation & editing, geographical analysis and queries, statistical report generation and presentation.

NRET 3306 - Industrial Safety
The industrial safety course provides comprehensive theory and field skills in a suite of modules. Students also prepare a remote location plan and explore hazard identification (which includes a host of field-related safety basics).

NRET 3307 - Fish and Wildlife II
Building on the foundation of species identification and field based skills of F&W I, the learner explores several approaches to managing fish and wildlife management. Species of the coastal and marine realms are introduced to expand the learner’s understanding of the fish, mammals and birds of these ecosystems, including further exploration of species at risk and invasive marine species. Case studies from Atlantic Canada of fish and wildlife management are assessed to understand factors for success and common barriers to conservation. Where possible field visits to sites are completed to view first-hand how the management has worked.

NRET 3308 - Coastal and Marine Management
This course introduces learners to the issues of coastal zone and marine management. Key ecosystem characteristics of the coastal zone and marine realms are explored to provide a basis for addressing the issues affecting each. The Nova Scotia State of the Coast report is the focus for learning about coastal zone planning. A focus on aquaculture allows learners to identify challenges and solutions for these key sectors. Site visits include field identification of coastal ecosystems, and/or an aquaculture facility tour to recognize best practices.

NRET 3309 - Watershed Management II
Water quality and quantity are not only an essential part of human activities but are one of the best indicators of environmental health. Building on other courses, this course surveys the complexity of water resources management to address land use issues. How development activities affect water quality and quantity in a watershed context is explored. The provision of drinking water, management of wastewater, and restoration of aquatic habitats are areas of focus. Field-based learning will allow learners to characterize and compare watercourses, assess case studies, and take part in projects aimed at restoring watershed health.

NRET 3310 - Applied Research Project
This course further develops the learners’ technical documentation and applied research skills in conjunction with other courses in the Natural Resources Environmental Engineering Technology. Learners will produce and present an independent applied research report that will utilize the knowledge and skills developed throughout the program. Each learner will be assigned a faculty advisor to assist and evaluate him/her on technical issues.

SAFE 1000 - Introduction to WHMIS (Workplace Hazardous Materials Information Systems)
This course offers learners basic overview of WHMIS principles and establishes a solid foundation to support workplace-specific training on the safe storage and handling of controlled/hazardous products. Upon successful completion of the course, students receive basic WHMIS certification.

SAFE 1001 - Introduction to NS OH&S Act
This course offers students an introduction to the Occupational Health & Safety (OH&S) Act of Nova Scotia, which is required by any person employed in a Nova Scotia workplace. This is a generic, introductory course that provides basic knowledge of the Act for students and is considered to be the basis from which more specific training can be given.

SAFE 1021 - Safety Basics – Hazard Identification
The learners are introduced to the types of hazards encountered in workplaces and the approach that should be followed when recommending and implementing appropriate controls. Two key elements of Hazard Identification are addressed: Hazard Assessment and Inspection. The Nova Scotia Occupational Health and Safety Act is discussed. The course material is to be infused throughout the curriculum and may be delivered in the classroom, shop or other opportunity as designed and developed by the instructor.

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