HAPPY VALLEY-GOOSE BAY, LABRADOR, Feb. 5 /CNW Telbec/ - The Canadian Boreal Initiative (CBI) congratulates the Governments of Canada and Newfoundland and Labrador on their intent to establish two new protected areas in Canada's Boreal Forest.
Today's announcement by the Government of Canada to move ahead with the establishment of the Mealy Mountains National Park, encompassing 10,700 km(2) (2.65 million acres), and by the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador to designate 3,000 km(2) (700,000 acres) of the adjacent lower Eagle River watershed for inclusion in a new provincial water park, will create a total protected area of nearly 14,000 km(2) (3.3 million acres) in central Labrador.
"This is an outstanding boreal landscape with a rich and diverse ecological and cultural history. These parks represent an exceptional legacy for present and future generations," said Larry Innes, executive director of CBI. "We are very pleased to recognize the achievement of the governments, the Aboriginal peoples and local organizations who came together to advance a common vision for the protection of this important region."
Together, the federal Mealy Mountains National Park and the provincial Eagle River waterway park will be one of the largest protected areas in Eastern North America, about equal in size to the protected lands in New York's Adirondack State Park.
"This announcement sets an important precedent for parks in Canada," continued Mr. Innes. "This is not a remote, off-limits park; this is a new approach to conservation, that incorporates traditional uses and celebrates Labrador's rich and diverse cultural heritage, while securing ecological values."
Today's announcement is a major step towards completing the Canadian National Park system, and will nearly double the total area protected within the province of Newfoundland and Labrador.
Labrador's Mealy Mountains region offers exceptional opportunities for tourism, recreation, and exploration of Canada's heritage; continued traditional uses by Aboriginal and local people, and protection of significant areas of habitat for the threatened Mealy Mountains woodland caribou herd.
This protected area covers Labrador's critical wetlands and salmon and brook trout habitat. They provide a haven for a threatened woodland caribou herd, along with moose, black bear, osprey, bald eagles and a species of special concern, the eastern population of the harlequin duck.
"People sometimes forget how truly large and diverse our boreal forests are. In addition to being a physically awe-inspiring landscape, this park will act as a refuge for a whole suite of Boreal wildlife, ranging from woodland caribou to brook trout to the harlequin duck," said Mr. Innes. All are important to local economies and ecologies, making this area critical for protection.
Canada's Mealy Mountains National Park announcement follows others from the provinces of Ontario, Quebec and Manitoba and the federal government in the Northwest Territories to designate more than 23 million acres of new parks and wildlife refuges and to undertake conservation planning to protect another 200 million acres, an area twice the size of California. The North American boreal forest stretches from Newfoundland and Labrador to Alaska and surpasses the Amazon Rainforest in size and carbon storage. In 2007, 1,500 international scientists recommended that at least half of Canada's boreal forest be protected.
The Canadian Boreal Initiative Created in 2003, the Canadian Boreal Initiative (CBI) brings together diverse partners to create new solutions for Boreal conservation and sustainable development, and acts as a catalyst for on-the-ground efforts across the Boreal forest by governments, industry, aboriginal communities, conservation groups, major retailers, financial institutions and scientists.
SOURCE Canadian Boreal Initiative
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