Yukon has progress to make on wilderness protection: CPAWS report

Media Release

July 13, 2015

Yukon has progress to make on wilderness protection: CPAWS report

Whitehorse – In its latest annual report released in advance of Canada Parks Day, the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) is calling Canada out for falling behind most other countries in protecting its land and fresh water.  CPAWS’ 2015 report, Protecting Canada: Is it in our nature? assesses whether our governments are on track to meet their collective international commitment to protect at least 17% of our land and fresh water by 2020, and to improve the quality of our protected areas.

“Based on our assessment of progress since Canada endorsed the UN Convention on Biological Diversity 10-year plan in 2010, it would take us 50 years from today, not five, to meet our commitment to protect at least 17% of our land and fresh water. And 17% is only the next step we need to take towards protecting at least half to ensure Canada continues to have healthy, functioning ecosystems,” says Alison Woodley, national director of CPAWS’ parks program.

“In Yukon, one of our highest priorities is to restart the land use planning process in a way that incorporates systemic conservation planning,” says Joanna Jack, Conservation Programs Coordinator for CPAWS Yukon.  “The development of a comprehensive Yukon-wide conservation strategy would serve as an excellent starting point.”

She adds, “Furthermore, we must make progress on our existing commitments by withdrawing the planned parks of Aga Mene and Summit Lake-Bell River from mineral staking, and developing a long-term territorial funding strategy for the establishment and effective management of our territorial parks.”

CPAWS found that the current percentage of lands and inland waters protected varies dramatically across Canada, ranging from just under three percent in Prince Edward Island, to more than 15% in British Columbia.  Since 2011, the area protected in Alberta, Newfoundland and Labrador and the Yukon Territory has not grown at all, and all other provinces have increased protection by less than 2%. B.C.’s progress is undermined by its 2014 Parks Act amendments that allow industrial research in parks and boundary changes to accommodate pipelines and logging.

Reasons for optimism

“Some of Canada’s provinces and territories and Indigenous communities are making impressive efforts to advance protected areas. Quebec and Ontario have committed to protecting half of their northern territories, although implementation of these commitments is very slow. Nova Scotia has ramped up efforts and appears to be on track to reach 14% protection, Manitoba has committed to creating 15 new parks and protected areas and to expanding others, and Alberta, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut all have land use planning processes underway that could lead to new, large protected areas,” says Eric Hebert-Daly, National Director of CPAWS.

At the federal level, a large new national park called Qausuittuq in Nunavut (11,000 km2) was just finalized in June, and two more could be announced within the next year. These include an area called Thaidene Nene around the East Arm of Great Slave Lake, NWT, where approximately 30,000 km2 could become a combined national and territorial park shortly. Similarly, the process for finalizing the 10,700 km2 Mealy Mountains National Park Reserve in Labrador is nearing completion, with an adjacent 3,000 km2 provincial park still at the early stages of establishment.

Local Indigenous communities are playing a significant leadership role and partnering with federal, provincial, and/or territorial governments to protect many of these large areas.

CPAWS calculates that if existing plans for creating new protected areas were implemented, along with other commitments for which specific sites have not yet been confirmed, Canada could meet its obligation to reach 17% protection by 2020.


View executive summary at: Http://cpaws.org/uploads/CPAWS_Parks_Report_2015_Exec_Summary.pdf

View full report at: http://cpaws.org/uploads/CPAWS_Parks_Report_2015-Single_Page.pdf

For interviews, contact: Joanna Jack, 867-393-8080 x 1, jjack@cpawsyukon.org

Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society-Yukon Chapter
Email: info@cpawsyukon.org
Ph: (867)-393-8080