Resource roads threaten wildlife and wilderness: CPAWS Yukon report
Whitehorse, YT – New resource road projects could transform the Yukon’s wilderness and jeopardize wildlife—warns a report released today by CPAWS Yukon. Titled Eroding the Yukon’s wild character, the report describes the ecological impacts of roads and the challenges they pose to the Yukon’s environmental review system.
Ecologists have called roads a sleeping giant among humankind’s impacts on the planet. Roads can disrupt animal migrations, help invasive species spread and cut ecosystems into isolated fragments of habitat. Roads can be especially damaging to wide-ranging species such as caribou, wolverines and grizzly bears.
Roads that would make the ‘first cut’ into roadless areas should be treated cautiously, especially roads proposed in areas of high ecological and cultural significance. “Roads make it easier for resource extraction industries to access lands,” said Malkolm Boothroyd, author of the report. “Once a road makes the ‘first cut’ into a roadless landscape waves of development can follow.” However, the Yukon’s environmental review process isn’t mandated to look at the domino effects of roads. “Road after road could be approved by low-level environmental reviews, and spiderwebs of roads could slowly erode the Yukon’s wildness,” said Boothroyd.
The report offers recommendations for how to make stronger decisions around road developments. Key among them is for the Yukon to complete regional land use planning before major road projects go ahead. Land use planning is suited to making big-picture decisions like where roads are acceptable, and what areas should stay roadless. CPAWS Yukon also recommends the scope of environmental reviews be expanded to better address cumulative impacts and induced developments associated with resource roads.
Malkolm Boothroyd | Campaigns Coordinator, CPAWS Yukon
firstname.lastname@example.org | Phone: 867 332 0310
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