OTTAWA, Nov. 22 /CNW/ - Yesterday's interim land withdrawal announcement
by the Government of Canada and several First Nations - protecting more than
10 million hectares in the Northwest Territories - was one of the most
significant land decisions in Canadian history, and the Canadian Boreal
Initiative (CBI) hopes people around the world recognize it as signalling a
new era in conservation thinking.
"This was a landmark decision - in more ways than one," said CBI
Executive Director Larry Innes. "By putting conservation first, Canada is
taking a leadership role in ensuring a balanced approach to land development,
unlike anything we've ever seen before."
The areas protected include:
- 1.5 million hectares designated for a future national wildlife area
along the Mackenzie River near the town of Fort Good Hope under the
Northwest Territories Protected Area Strategy;
- 3.3 million hectares identified for a new national park (2.6 million
acres of new protection) on the East Arm of Great Slave Lake; and
- 6 million hectares of priority lands between the new park and an
existing wildlife refuge to be managed for conservation and
appropriate development by the Akaitcho First Nations under a pending
These lands will be permanently protected from development as management
plans and final agreements are completed. Final designations for each area
will follow within the next five years. These land withdrawals have been put
forward by Aboriginal communities, with the support of the federal and
"Given that Canada's vital Boreal region is increasingly under stress,
taking action to protect it will have globally significant outcomes," Innes
said. "Canada is taking a leadership role in protecting large, intact
ecosystems from development, and on a scale unlike anything we've ever seen
With attention focused on the Arctic and climate change, the timing
couldn't be better to act to protect these sensitive Northern ecosystems, said
Steve Kallick, director of the International Boreal Conservation Campaign at
the Pew Environment Group.
"Earlier this year 1,500 scientists from around the globe identified
Canada's Boreal as deeply threatened and a top conservation priority. They
recommended protecting at least 50% of the entire 1.5 billion acre forest.
We're thrilled to see Canada's government listening to scientists and acting
on those recommendations. They are taking wilderness conservation to a whole
new level," Kallick said.
The Canadian Boreal Forest is the largest intact forest remaining on the
planet, rivaling the Amazon in size and ecological importance. It stores more
carbon than any other terrestrial ecosystem - more than twice as much carbon
per hectare as tropical rainforests - and plays a vital role in climate
regulation. It also teems with wildlife, including nesting grounds for
billions of migratory songbirds and 40% of North America's waterfowl. Canada's
Boreal is also home to some of the world's largest remaining populations of
grizzly and polar bears, wolves, woodland and barren-ground caribou.
"This decision is also significant in that it demonstrates that
government is committed to working with Aboriginal and Northern communities
and a broad range of stakeholders to find the balance between environmental
and cultural protection and responsible development," Innes said.
"It may seem like an obvious way to sequence conservation and
development, but it rarely happens that way. Generally, development proposals
come first, and once development is underway, it's often too late to think
about large-scale conservation - the discussion quickly becomes about
trade-offs and mitigation," he said. "This finally gets the sequencing right."
The measures support efforts by Aboriginal communities - who specifically
identified the land protected by yesterday's announcement - to find their own
balance between traditional and modern economies, while protecting important
ecological, cultural and spiritual areas.
Based in Ottawa, the Canadian Boreal Initiative is a convener bringing
together partners including governments, industry, First Nations, conservation
groups, major retailers, financial institutions and scientists to create new
solutions for the conservation and sustainable development of the Boreal
CBI is part of an international boreal conservation campaign organized by
the Pew Charitable Trusts' Environment Group.
1) Ts'ude niline Tu'eyeta/Ramparts candidate National Wildlife Area:
15,087 km2 or 3,728,078 acres
The future Ts'ude niline Tu'eyeta/Ramparts National Wildlife Area is
being advanced under the Northwest Territories Protected Area Strategy to
maintain the culture and way of life of local Sahtu Dene First Nation
communities, and to protect some of the most important wetlands and waterfowl
habitat in Canada's vast Boreal Forest. This area is located approximately 800
km northwest of Yellowknife, NWT at the Arctic Circle. Protecting this area of
Canada's Boreal Forest will help maintain biodiversity, cultural values, and
ecological goods and services.
2) East Arm of the Great Slave Lake National Park Area of Interest:
2.6 million ha/6.5 million acres. 728,000 ha/1.8 million acres were
previously reserved, bringing the total area of 3.4 million ha/8.3
Thaydene Nene, the Lands of the Ancestors, is the Dene name for the
proposed national park in surrounding the East Arm of Great Slave Lake. Work
to establish the new national park is being led by the Lutsel K'e Dene First
Nation and Parks Canada, supported by national conservation organizations. The
creation of the park will insure that the integrity of the Lutsel K'e Dene's
culture and traditional territory - in Canada's Boreal Forest - and the
tremendous fish and wildlife habitat of the area will be preserved.
3) Akaitcho Land Withdrawals: 6.2 million ha/15.3 million acres
As part of negotiations towards a modern treaty settlement agreement, the
Akaitcho First Nations have selected these ecologically and culturally
important lands. They intend these lands to be conserved and managed under
tribal direction to achieve environmental protection and sustainable
development objective. The Akaitcho have a high level of concern about the
impacts of uranium exploration and diamond mining activities in their
The Northwest Territories Protected Area Strategy
The Northwest Territories Protected Area Strategy (NWT PAS) is a unique
collaboration between the governments of Canada and the Northwest Territories,
Aboriginal peoples, conservation groups and industry stakeholders established
in 1999. The goal of the PAS is to complete a culturally and ecologically
representative network of protected areas in the NWT, ensuring that
communities are able to benefit from both conservation and development. More
than 30 sites have been proposed by the communities themselves, working
collaboratively with conservation groups, industry and all levels of
For more information: http://www.nwtwildlife.com/pas/
Boreal Forest Conservation Framework
The visionary goal of the Boreal Forest Conservation Framework is
grounded in conservation science and traditional wisdom, and seeks to preserve
at least half of the Boreal Forest in a network of large, interconnected
protected areas and conservation zones, and to support sustainable communities
through world-leading ecosystem-based resource management practices and
state-of-the-art stewardship practices in the remaining landscape.
The Framework has the support of leading resource companies, financial
institutions, conservation groups, and Aboriginal organizations. In May 2007,
more than 1500 scientists from around the world endorsed the Framework's
vision for Boreal conservation.
For more information: http://www.borealcanada.ca/
For further information:
For further information: Larry Innes, Canadian Boreal Initiative, (416)
575-6776; Justin Kenney, The Pew Charitable Trusts, (215) 575-4816