CPAWS calls on premiers to protect large-scale wildlife habitat



    OTTAWA, Jan. 28 /CNW Telbec/ - In the face of climate change that is
already harming forests, oceans and wildlife, the Canadian Parks and
Wilderness Society (CPAWS) is calling on Canada's premiers at their
January 29th meeting in Vancouver to adopt an adaptation strategy that will
set aside at least half of Canada's public land and water in protected areas.
    "If the premiers just focus their adaptation discussions on managing
disasters like changing water levels and pine beetle infestations, they'll
miss the boat. They need to move on proactive measures that will give our
ecosystems the maximum chance of survival. There's no time to lose, we need a
highly accelerated pace of establishing large-scale protected areas on land
and water," says Aran O'Carroll, CPAWS national manager of legal and
regulatory affairs.
    Canada is one of the few remaining countries in the world that has large
stretches of intact wilderness. Saving the wilderness will both help
ecosystems to adapt to climate change and slow its impacts. Our oceans and
forests capture and store greenhouse gas emissions in the form of carbon.
    CPAWS has set a target of protecting at least half of Canada's public
lands and waters because that's the minimum scientists say is needed to
maintain healthy functioning ecosystems. As an example, over
1,500 international scientists signed a letter last spring calling on Canada
to protect at least half of our Boreal forest, which covers nearly 60% of our
landmass.
    The International Panel on Climate Change reports that approximately 20%
to 30% of plant and animal species are likely to be at increased risk of
extinction if global average temperature rises exceed 1.5 to 2.5 degrees
Celsius.
    "An ecosystem can only take so much of a beating before it collapses. The
best way to keep an ecosystem's resilience high is to protect it from other
intrusive impacts like logging, mining and oil and gas development," says
O'Carroll.
    "So far, less than 10% of Canada's lands and 1% of our oceans are
protected from industrial activity. Over 500 Canadian wildlife species,
ranging from the iconic woodland caribou to the tiny Monarch butterfly are
already at risk of extinction, and the number will grow unless we take action
now to protect their habitat," adds O'Carroll.
    "We know that forward-looking protected area plans are do-able. Just look
at the Northwest Territories, where the government working with Canada, has
recently protected over 100,000 km2 of intact wilderness. Every premier has
the ability to set targets for new protected areas that will help to slow and
respond to the impacts of climate change," adds O'Carroll.

    CPAWS is Canada's voice for wilderness. In the past 45 years, CPAWS has
played a lead role in establishing more than two-thirds of Canada's protected
areas.




For further information:

For further information: Ellen Adelberg, (613) 292-2875; Aran O'Carroll
(613) 698-6931, www.cpaws.org

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CANADIAN PARKS AND WILDERNESS SOCIETY

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