The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) welcomes today’s significant announcement by federal Environment Minister John Baird and Indian and Northern Affairs Minister Chuck Strahl that they have temporarily protected more than 100,000 square kilometers of Boreal forest in Canada’s Northwest Territories from industrial development. These newly protected lands, covering an area almost twice the size of Nova Scotia, represent one of the largest single land protection initiatives in Canadian history.
Today’s announcement will protect these lands from any new industrial development allocations for four to five years while the process of establishing long term protection mechanisms is completed. It represents important next steps for three conservation initiatives: the Ramparts River and Wetlands (Ts’udeniline Tu’eyeta) proposed National Wildlife Area in the Mackenzie Valley near the community of Fort Good Hope (15,000 sq km); a new national park on the East Arm of Great Slave Lake (Thaydene Nene, 26,350 sq km); and the conservation of lands surrounding the East Arm park proposal identified through treaty negotiations between Canada and the Akaitcho First Nations (approx. 62,000 sq km).
“We congratulate the Government of Canada, the community of Fort Good Hope, the Akaitcho First Nations, the Government of the Northwest Territories and our partner conservation organizations for their perseverance and vision in working to protect these lands of ecological and cultural importance,” said Anne Levesque, CPAWS National Executive Director. “We look forward to continuing our work together to complete a network of protected lands and waters throughout the NWT, and across Canada.”
“Today’s announcement shows what can be achieved when we work together to conserve the wilderness, wildlife, clean water and healthy lands that northerners and all Canadians so cherish,” said Jennifer Morin, Interim Executive Director of CPAWS NWT Chapter. “It is great to see our many years of collective effort showing concrete results on the ground.”
In January, Minister Baird committed to moving forward on a suite of protected areas in the Northwest Territories. Since then, the federal government has taken concrete next steps towards permanently protecting Sahoyúé – §ehdacho National Historic Site on Great Bear Lake and expanding Nahanni National Park Reserve to protect the South Nahanni Watershed, both of which are priority campaigns for CPAWS. They have also extended the temporary protection for Edéhzhíe (Horn Plateau) — a proposed National Wildlife Area; as well as allocated federal funding for NWT protected areas in the last federal budget. Today’s announcement includes the necessary next steps towards protecting the three remaining sites identified in the Minister’s January commitment.
“We’re encouraged by the federal government’s efforts to act in a timely way on its conservation commitments,” notes Ms. Morin. “We look forward to continuing this work at a pace that will allow us to protect the incredible ecological and cultural values of the North before industrial development forecloses on this great opportunity.”
For more than a decade, CPAWS has been working to establish a network of protected areas in the Boreal forest of the NWT. This work has been proceeding through the NWT Protected Areas Strategy – a partnership between First Nations communities, conservation organizations including CPAWS, territorial and federal governments, and industry – as well as through national park proposals and regional land use planning initiatives in the Dehcho and Sahtu regions.
CPAWS is working towards a goal of keeping at least half of Canada’s remaining public wilderness lands and waters permanently wild. Canada is home to 20% of the world’s remaining wilderness, and much of it is found in our North.
For more information:
Alison Woodley, National Northern Program Manager
(613) 203-1172 (cell) or (613) 569-7226 ext 227
Jennifer Morin, Interim Executive Director, CPAWS-NWT Chapter
(867) 873-9893 ext. 24