Grand Pre National Historic Site in Nova Scotia is now Canada’s 16th world heritage location after being recognized by the United Nations' scientific and cultural agency.

The federal government said Saturday that UNESCO declared Grand Pre a world heritage site because of its “exceptional” cultural characteristics that are important for present and future generations.

“This worldwide recognition states that the landscape of Grand Pre is a cultural place of outstanding universal value,” Environment and Parks Canada Minister Peter Kent said in a statement.

“This designation will attract not only Nova Scotians, Acadians and other Canadians, but also international visitors who are looking for unique experiences at iconic places.”

In addition to the national historic site, the newly designated area includes the communities of Grand Pre and Hortonville, encompassing more than 1,300 hectares of land and properties.

In the 17th century, the area was settled by French colonists, later known as Acadians.

“For us, I think it’s a new step, a new beginning for the Acadian population, and we’re certainly proud of that,” Rene Legere, president of the National Acadian Society, told CTV Atlantic.

Local residents worked with First Nations and Acadian groups to get Grand Pre recognized as a heritage site.

The co-chair of that committee, Peter Herbin, carried on the work of his grandfather.

“His focus was always to bring attention to the Acadian story throughout his life and to bring it onto the world stage,” Herbin told CTV Atlantic.

Coun. Mike Ennis, of the Municipality of Kings County, called the news “the reward for a lot of work by a lot of dedicated people.”

Local farmer Robert Palmeter’s family has worked the land since the 1760s. Local farmers like him rely on the dike system put in place by those settlers centuries ago.

“The land hasn’t changed and we’ve been doing it for seven, eight generations,” he said. “It means a lot to have it recognized, that we’re still doing that today.”

Eleven of Canada’s 16 UNESCO heritage sites are at least partially managed by Parks Canada.

Other heritage sites in Canada include L'Anse aux Meadows and Nahanni, as well as the Historic District of Old-Quebec, and Sgang Gwaay in British Columbia.

With a report from CTV Atlantic's Garreth MacDonald