Dehcho First Nations and Conservation Groups Seek Solution to Implement Land Use Plan in Advance of Mackenzie Pipeline



    CALGARY, April 4 /CNW Telbec/ - The Dehcho First Nations together with
WWF-Canada, Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) Ducks Unlimited
Canada (DUC) and the Canadian Boreal Initiative called on the Government of
Canada to implement the Dehcho Land Use Plan.
    The Dehcho First Nations have linked the future of the proposed Mackenzie
Valley Pipeline project to the Land Use Plan.
    "Our position is that without the Land Use Plan, there won't be a
pipeline", said Dehcho First Nations Grand Chief Herb Norwegian. "Implementing
the Land Use Plan is the key to unlocking the development potential of our
territory and securing a sustainable future for our children."
    Under an Interim Measures Agreement signed between Canada, the Northwest
Territories and the Dehcho First Nations in 2001, approximately half of the
Dehcho region-covering 20 million hectares of the Mackenzie watershed--was
protected from development to enable land use planning and negotiations to
proceed.
    The Plan was developed over a four year period by an independent planning
committee with members appointed by the governments of Canada, the Northwest
Territories and the Dehcho First Nations. The final draft Plan released in
June 2006 identifies conservation zones (including national parks and national
wildlife areas) to be established in approximately half of the planning area,
while opening the remainder of the territory to well-regulated development.
Negotiators for the Government of Canada have stated that the Plan places too
much emphasis on conservation and will not be approved in its current form.
    "Our people have poured our hearts into the development of this plan. The
Plan reflects the wisdom of our elders, the knowledge of hunters and the
aspirations of our communities," said Norwegian. "It is something that the
Government of Canada should take pride in helping to advance."
    Conservation organizations noted the national significance of the Dehcho
Land Use Plan and supported Dehcho First Nations call for governments to
implement it.
    "Canada's Boreal forest is one of the world's great ecosystems and spans
a third of the country's total land area, "said Larry Innes, CBI Acting
Executive Director. "Pressure on this ecosystem-particularly in the
Mackenzie--is growing at an exponential rate. The Dehcho Land Use Plan is a
leading example of how Aboriginal peoples can provide leadership in making
sustainable land use decisions. A decision by the Government of Canada to
implement this land use plan would be a positive step towards achieving
support a balanced approach to conservation and development in the Boreal."
    "Almost four years ago in Ft Providence, WWF recognized both the Dehcho
and Government of Canada with our highest honour - a 'Gift to the Earth' for
their 10.1 million ha Land Withdrawal and Interim Resource Management
Agreement," said Monte Hummel, President Emeritus of WWF-Canada. "The federal
government enjoyed this high profile international recognition at that time;
now it's time for them to live up to the conservation commitments they have
made to the Dehcho, to WWF and to the world."
    "This Plan is an excellent example of how traditional knowledge and
scientific information can be integrated to promote conservation while
advancing sustainable development," said Shannon Haszard, Northwest
Territories Manager, Ducks Unlimited Canada. "We are proud to have been part
of the collaborative process that resulted in the development of this Plan."
    "CPAWS applauds and commits itself to supporting the Dehcho Land Use Plan
as it is aligned with our vision that at least 50% of the Canadian boreal
landscape be protected in a network of interconnected areas and that there be
sustainable management on the rest of the landscape, said Harvey Locke, CPAWS
Senior Conservation Advisor. "We particularly note that the protection of the
South Nahanni Watershed and Nahanni karstlands is a centre piece of this land
use plan. The plan would be of great benefit to all Canadians."
    Canada's chief negotiator recently advised the Dehcho First Nations that
their land rights negotiations would be postponed until further instructions
are received from the Minister of Indian Affairs.

    Based in Ottawa, the Canadian Boreal Initiative brings together diverse
partners to create new solutions for Boreal conservation and acts as a
catalyst by supporting a variety of on-the-ground efforts across the Boreal by
governments, industry, First Nations, conservation groups, major retailers,
financial institutions and scientists.




For further information:

For further information: Christine Choury, Director of Communications,
Canadian Boreal Initiative, (613) 230-4739, Ext. 222, C: (613) 355-6513;
http://www.borealcanada.ca

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Canadian Boreal Initiative

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