CPAWS urges Premiers to protect Canada’s wilderness and confront climate change
As Canada’s thirteen territorial and provincial Premiers meet in Whitehorse this week to collaborate on issues of national importance, CPAWS Yukon is calling on our nation’s leaders to implement strong action on climate change, including emissions reductions and protection of Canada’s wilderness.
At their last meetings in Vancouver in March, governments agreed to create a pan-Canadian framework for clean growth and climate change, which would include actions to limit temperature increase and foster resilience to climate change. In order to achieve these goals, steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions will need to be taken quickly and our ecosystems will need to be protected. CPAWS Yukon urges Canada’s premiers to look at the creation of more provincial, territorial and marine protected areas as the backbone of a climate adaptation strategy.
Chris Rider, Executive Director of CPAWS Yukon stated, “In the fight against climate change, conservation needs to be a cornerstone of our efforts. Nature is essential for both reducing our vulnerability to the impacts that are already happening, and mitigating climate change in the future.”
Natural areas provide a necessary service by storing the carbon that it emitted into the atmosphere. In fact, Canada’s Boreal forest stores about 186 billion tons of carbon, mostly within soils and peatlands. But as these ecosystems are altered by climate change or converted to other uses such as mining and oil and gas extraction, they can actually become sources of carbon emissions, and their ability to shelter humans and all species from the impacts of climate change is diminished. Next to habitat loss, climate change is also the biggest threat to wildlife and biodiversity, with 20-30% of species at increased risk of extinction. Conservation corridors will be especially important for protecting nature that is ‘on the move’ as a result of climate change.
The Peel Watershed is a prime example of how climate change and nature protection are interlinked. The boreal forest of the Peel helps mitigate climate change by sequestering carbon, and the region also serves as the northern anchor of a wildlife corridor that would stretch from Yellowstone National Park in the United States to the Yukon, providing refuge for species that are displaced by climate change. CPAWS Yukon is working alongside the Yukon Conservation Society, the First Nation of Na-Cho Nyak Dun, the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in, and Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation to protect the Peel from major industrial development that would damage its ecological value, including in the fight against climate change (see more at www.protectpeel.ca)
Rider concluded: “Canada is very fortunate to have vast wilderness areas that ensure we have clean air and water, provide habitat for incredible biodiversity, and support our economy. CPAWS Yukon encourages Canada’s Premiers to remember that protecting nature is also an essential part of the climate change solution.”
Chris Rider, Executive Director, CPAWS Yukon: (867) 393-8080