Strategic Plan

CPAWS Yukon Strategic Plan 2017 - 2020


For many years, the work of CPAWS Yukon has focused almost exclusively on the campaign to protect the Peel Watershed. After the legal case was heard by the Supreme Court of Canada in March 2017, the campaign transitioned to a new, less public, phase. This has required a significant change in focus for the organization. During the transition period, CPAWS Yukon had a relatively new staff, making it an opportune time to re-imagine our future.

In preparation for the strategic planning process, a survey was completed by each member of staff and board. Additionally, interviews were done with a number of external stakeholders. These included two First Nations chiefs, a funder, a former executive director and a past board president. These exercises allowed us to identify a range of themes and perspectives for the future of the organization. Lastly, staff and board were invited to create a one-page briefing document, if they had a specific project/campaign idea, to present to the rest of the group.

On March 3rd & 4th 2017, CPAWS staff and board gathered for a two-day strategic planning session, hosted by David Thomson of TREC. This 3-year strategic plan is the output from that meeting. It is a working document and will be updated as needed over the duration of the planning period.

Mission Statement & Values


CPAWS Yukon aims to preserve vast tracts of the Yukon’s most beautiful and ecologically important lands and waters for all. In a world that is rapidly losing its wilderness, we want conservation to be a pillar in the Yukon so that our rich wildlife and diverse landscapes receive the protection they deserve. We support fair and democratic land-use planning that respects the rights of Yukon First Nations, engages all Yukoners and recognizes the importance of protected areas as a means to promote ecological integrity and a sustainable future for the Yukon.


During the strategic planning session, significant energy was put towards identifying the values of the organization. These are our key values:

• We advocate for wilderness protection and believe that this can only be achieved through collaboration;
• We respect the sovereignty of First Nations people and their traditional territory across the Yukon. We recognize that we cannot be truly successful in our efforts to conserve wilderness if we do not work collaboratively with First Nations people and in the spirit of reconciliation;
• Our efforts are grounded in both western science and traditional knowledge;
• We respect the land use planning process, as outlined in Chapter 11 of the Umbrella Final Agreement and;
• Though our work is focused on conservation, we believe that climate change is the greatest challenge of our era. Everything we do must be viewed through this lens.

Strategic Vision:

By 2022, our vision is that CPAWS Yukon — and our partners — have helped ensure that the following statements are true:

• The Peel Watershed Planning Commission’s Final Recommended Plan has been fully implemented;
• The method of permanent protection for 55% of the Peel Watershed has either been implemented or implementation is underway;
• Other land use planning processes are underway or completed with all parties and the public fully engaged;
• The Yukon public has embraced the idea of protecting a Yukon wide network of large interconnected, representative areas of each of the territory’s ecoregions;
• Resource extraction is done sustainably with an environment first lens, and any new development is being done with the minimal need for roads;
• Effective strategies are in place for protecting the Yukon’s wildlife, including a Yukon Species at Risk Act;
• The data exists and a plan is in place for Yukon Government to implement a territory-wide conservation strategy and;
• The future of the Porcupine Caribou Herd is assured.

Three-Year Goals:

CPAWS Yukon is focused on wilderness conservation, primarily through the development and maintenance of parks and protected areas. This means that we advocate for the protection of ecological integrity, bio-diversity and the maintenance of existing protected areas. When considering any new opportunities, they should be considered through this lens.

Over the coming three years, we have identified the following goals for the organization. Priority Goals will be first to receive our attention; Secondary Goals, though still important, will receive attention where capacity is available. Operational Goals are those that contribute to the overall health of the organization, such as human resources and fundraising.

Priority Goals

Goal 1: The Peel Watershed

Working to protect the Peel Watershed has long been CPAWS Yukon’s leading campaign. The current phase of the campaign is reaching its logical conclusion and it is likely that the volume of work required will change as the campaign moves forward over the next three years. Despite this, it is critical that we remain focused on this important campaign.

• Objective 1: Implementation of the Final Recommended Peel Land Use Plan;
• Objective 2: Legislated permanent protection will be given to 55% of the Peel within three years, through the implementation of a park or alternative method. The additional 25% will be converted from interim to permanent protection after the scheduled 10-year review;
• Objective 3: The protected Peel Watershed will grow as a source of sustainable economic development including, but not limited to, tourism initiatives led and informed by local communities and First Nations.

Goal 2: The Porcupine Caribou Herd

Each year, the Porcupine Caribou Herd migrates from the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve (ANWR) in Alaska to the Northwest Territories via the Yukon. They are the last great barren ground caribou herd in Canada and their survival is critical to the people of the Yukon, particularly the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation in Old Crow who rely on the herd to sustain their way of life. While their population is currently healthy, we have seen the rapid decline of other herds recently and there is proposed development within their habitat that could put them at severe risk.

• Objective 1: The Governments of Alaska and the United States have re-instated protection of the Porcupine Caribou Herd’s calving grounds within ANWR;
• Objective 2: Appropriate protection exists for the herd within the Yukon.

Goal 3: Conservation Gains through Land Use Planning

While we have been awaiting the release of the Supreme Court of Canada ruling, land use planning has been suspended across the Yukon. Yukon Government has indicated that the Land Use Planning process will restart soon after the decision is released. In order to ensure that this is done effectively, CPAWS will need to provide meaningful input into the process. This will include providing input throughout the process, as well as a significant amount of public engagement and education work.

The overarching ambition for this goal is to have the scientific information available that will allow us to engage in this process effectively and credibly, using a “bigger picture” approach that addresses both the land use planning region itself and the Yukon as a whole.
While we know that there is some conservation data available to meet these needs, it’s extremely sparse compared to other jurisdictions across Canada. Moreover, the available data is often regionalized and was created by disparate sources such as First Nations, Yukon Government, Yukon College and non-governmental organizations. This means existing data is often difficult to access when needed.

• Objective 1: CPAWS Yukon will lead a detailed analysis of the conservation data that currently exists and will centralize it into an atlas of territory-wide conservation values.
• Objective 2: Gaps in the existing data will be identified and highlighted.
• Objective 3: Where possible, CPAWS Yukon will partner with other groups to generate new data that fills in these gaps.

Secondary Goals

The following goals will be addressed where there is an opportunity and where they do not interfere with the primary goals.

Goal 4: Region 7

Parks Canada has long held an interest in creating a national park within Region 7 which straddles the Yukon and northern British Columbia, however there are a number of significant barriers making it difficult to move forward with this project. CPAWS will continue to monitor the situation on Region 7 and will take action to move this work forward, where appropriate.

Goal 5: Addressing Climate Change

Climate change is the biggest issue of our era and unless it’s addressed, changes to the landscape mean that our conservation efforts could be undermined. For this reason, it must be a consideration in any work that we do. Though climate change action is not a primary goal, it will be addressed wherever it aligns with our mandate.

Goal 6: Promoting Sustainable Economic Development

For many people within the Yukon, the resource extraction industry appears to be their only option for private employment and business development. This is particularly the case in rural communities. Credible economic alternatives can be presented through conservation and protected areas. Where possible, we will help address this need and present positive alternatives, such as ecotourism or renewable energy initiatives.

Operational Goals

Goal 7: Diversified Funding

At present, the majority of CPAWS Yukon’s funding is tied directly to the Peel Watershed campaign. It is critical for the long-term sustainability of the organization that funding is found for other priorities.

Goal 8: Long-term funding for a communications position

Strong communications is key to strong public engagement. As a campaigning organization, it is critical for CPAWS Yukon to engage with the public as they are our leverage when we negotiate with other agencies. This is particularly relevant as the organization moves beyond the Peel Watershed campaign. In order to maintain strong public engagement, funding must be found to keep a full-time communications officer on staff.

Goal 9: Maintain the CPAWS office

CPAWS Yukon owns the building that we work in. It is important to continue regular and preventative maintenance in order to sustain the value of the building as a place of work, as an investment and as a part of our sustainable financial future.

Ongoing Commitments

Over the next three years, the following activities will remain priorities for the organization on a day-to-day basis. They are not strategic goals, but are captured here because they will require a significant allocation of resources:

• Participate in conservation of priority areas outside of the land use planning process by working with First Nations and federal or territorial governments. This may be through initiatives such as Pathway to Target 1 or other localised park planning processes;
• Engage in YESAB and other government-led planning and policy processes in order to minimize impacts on parks, protected areas, critical wildlife habitats or delicate eco-systems;
• Support the Yukon Conservation Society and other non-governmental organizations on mining and energy issues where they impact on parks, protected areas, critical wildlife habitats or delicate eco-systems and;
• Participate, as appropriate, in campaigns led by CPAWS national and other chapters.

CPAWS role in issues that indirectly affect conservation

While it is tempting to get involved in any number of environmental issues across the territory, it is important to remain focused on our mandate. For this reason, CPAWS will look to other organizations to take leadership when it comes to work in these areas:

• Work on energy or mining issues, where it does not have a direct impact on a park, protected area, critical wildlife habitat or a delicate eco-system;
• Any other environmental issue that does not relate directly to parks, protected areas, critical wildlife habitat or delicate ecosystems.