St. John’s – In an open letter recently sent to Premier Paul Davis of Newfoundland and Labrador and Prime Minister Stephen Harper, more than 30 well-known Canadians have called for governments to permanently protect Gros Morne National Park from the harmful impacts of industrial activities such as oil and gas development.
“I‘ve had the opportunity to experience the beauty of Gros Morne, and was shocked to learn about the proposal in 2013 to conduct oil drilling and hydraulic fracturing in the park area. It was a relief to hear that the province had declared a temporary fracking moratorium, but I’m very aware of the long-term danger to the national park as industrial pressures continue to grow,” says Greg Malone, a Newfoundland comedian.
In June 2014, in response to proposed oil exploration activities next to the park, the United Nations World Heritage Committee recommended that Canada establish a buffer zone around Gros Morne to ensure long-term protection for the park’s “outstanding universal values.”
“Without a permanent buffer zone around the park, future industrial activities could threaten Gros Morne’s pristine natural beauty and the livelihoods of people and communities that rely on tourism,” adds Malone, who signed the letter along with Canada’s first woman in space, Roberta Bondar, musician Tim Baker of Hey Rosetta, famous Newfoundland artist Mary Pratt and many others. In the letter, the prominent Canadians tell government leaders that “Gros Morne National Park is a magical place. It has captured our hearts, as it has those of hundreds of thousands of visitors from across Canada and around the world. Surely this is why Gros Morne is the cornerstone of the Newfoundland and Labrador tourism industry.”
The letter’s signatories, who also include award winning writers Joseph Boyden, Lawrence Hill, Michael Crummey, Camilla Gibb, and Lisa Moore, note that “by nominating Gros Morne National Park as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Canada promised to protect its outstanding universal values on behalf of the people of the world. Other World Heritage Sites, including several in Canada, already have buffer zones in place to provide them with added protection.“
“We welcome the support of these wonderful caring Canadians and thousands more who want to see Gros Morne protected forever from harmful industrial developments near the park. We’ll be continuing to urge both levels of government to work to create an effective buffer zone, as recommended by the United Nations World Heritage Committee,” says Eric Hebert-Daly, National Executive Director of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, which has been working with local community members on this issue for the past 18 months.
CPAWS is asking other Canadians to add their voice to the call for action by sending a short letter to decision makers.