For Immediate Release
Canada Takes Step Toward
April 7, 2008 (Ottawa) Nature Canada congratulated the federal and territorial governments on today’s announcement that 1.8 million acres of wilderness in the Northwest Territories have been granted interim protection, an important step toward establishing a national park larger than Banff.
John Baird, Minister of the Environment, made the announcement today at the Museum of Nature in Ottawa.
The land to be temporarily set aside encompasses the headwaters of the Nahanni River, a World Heritage Site. Located within Canada’s Boreal Forest, and home to wildlife such as woodland caribou, grizzly bears, and peregrine falcons, the area is sacred to the Sahtu Dene people, who call it Nááts'ihch'oh.
“Today’s announcement, along with the federal government’s earlier commitment to expand Nahanni National Park, is a welcome sign that protection of our natural spaces is a priority,” said Julie Gelfand, Nature Canada president. “It has given me hope that our endangered species may yet retain the habitat they need to survive, and that Canada may still be able to call itself a ‘nature nation’.”
In addition to today’s significant announcement, and the pledge to expand Nahanni National Park, progress has been made in other important areas of conservation, including Sayhoue/Edacho (Grizzly Bear Mountain/Scented Grass Hills in Great Bear Lake), which Parks Canada has agreed to fund as a National Historic Site, and Edéhzhíe (Horn Plateau), where the federal government has extended interim protection to October 31, 2008.
Nature Canada is calling for further progress on other areas named in the Northwest Territories Protected Areas Strategy, including Shuhtagot’ine Nene (“The Land of the Mountain People”) also in the Sahtu region of the NWT, Ts'ude'hliline Tuyetah (Ramparts) near Fort Good Hope and Thaydene Nene, on the east arm of Great Slave Lake. It has also called for a national park to be established in the Mealy Mountains of Labrador.
Nature Canada supports the Boreal Conservation Framework. Supporters of the Framework, including conservation groups, First Nations, and leading Canadian companies are calling for at least 50% of the region to be preserved in a network of large interconnected protected areas.
At 1.3 billion acres, Canada’s Boreal Forest is one of the largest intact forest and wetland ecosystems remaining on earth. It is a major source of North America’s fresh water and home to some of the planet’s largest populations of birds, wolves, grizzly bears, and woodland caribou.
“We commend the government on its commitment to our national park system,” said Gelfand, “and we congratulate all the people who have worked so hard to see the entire Nahanni watershed permanently protected.”
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