Canadian to be honoured for protecting national parks around the world

    OTTAWA, Nov. 20 /CNW Telbec/ - On November 21st, at an evening reception
at the Canadian Museum of Civilization, the Canadian Parks and Wilderness
Society (CPAWS) will present Dr. James Thorsell, age 66, formerly from Banff,
now residing in Wilmer, BC, with the prestigious James B. Harkin Conservation
Medal for his outstanding contribution to conserving wilderness and national
parks around the world.
    The J. B. Harkin medal, named after "the father of Canada's national
parks", is presented by CPAWS to individuals who have made an outstanding
contribution to conserving Canada's parks and associated conservation areas.
Past recipients include the Honourable Jean Chrétien, Dr. Stan Rowe and
Elizabeth May.
    Dr. Thorsell's distinguished 45 year career began with pioneering
academic research on parks and wilderness in Canada. He moved on to work for
Canadian park agencies, and in 1984 became executive officer of World
Conservation Union (IUCN) Commission on National Parks and Protected areas
based in Switzerland and subsequently the senior advisor to IUCN's World
Heritage Committee.
    Dr. Thorsell was responsible for naming Canada's Nahanni National Park
Reserve as UNESCO's first natural World Heritage Site. He evaluated more than
150 natural sites for the IUCN, resulting in over one million square
kilometres of land being brought under the World Heritage Convention. He also
helped to inspire the global Peace Parks movement that has been instrumental
in resolving border disputes and protecting nature in southern Africa and
elsewhere. Dr. Thorsell continues to serve on the board of the BC chapter of
the Nature Conservancy of Canada and the Charles Darwin Foundation, which is
dedicated to conservation of Galapagos National Park.
    CPAWS will confer the Harkin medal at the Canadian Museum of Civilization
to coincide with the Museum's newest permanent exhibition, Face to Face: The
Canadian Personalities Hall, which introduces Canadians and international
visitors to some of the people responsible for important events, decisions and
accomplishments in the history of our country, including James B. Harkin.
    CPAWS will also welcome as guest speaker Dr. Bjarni Tryggvason, astronaut
with the Canadian Space Agency, who will be speaking to guests about the
importance of Canada's global role in wilderness conservation. In 1997,
Dr. Tryggavason was awarded the NASA space flight medal and the Order of the
Falcon from Iceland. He is now acting as a visiting Professor at the
University of Western Ontario in the Department of Mechanical and Materials
    Dr. Thorsell will be available for media interviews on November 21 until
5 PM.

    The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) is Canada's leading
voice for public wilderness protection. We have had a key role in establishing
over two-thirds of Canada's protected areas since 1963.

For further information:

For further information: Jill Sturdy, (613) 569-7226 x232, cell: (613)

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