Canada: Over a Decade of Work

Canada: Over a Decade of Work

“Perhaps the most encouraging aspect of the recent surge in wilderness protection in Canada has been a fairly broad public consensus that landscape conservation at a major scale needs to be implemented,” Harvey Locke, International Journal of Wilderness, April 2009 Since early 2000, Canada has recognized the importance of protected at least half and is actively working to reach this goal. Collaborative efforts between government, First Nations, environmental groups and responsible corporations have rallied for the protection of nature and have had many successes, outlined below. Conservation groups, scientists, various governments and civil society aligning their visions In 2003, the Boreal Conservation Framework was signed by a variety First Nations, resource companies, and conservation groups. Its goal is to protect at least 50% of the boreal forest and ensure that world-class standards are applied to extractive activities on the rest. This was based on the best scientific information available about what truly effective conservation would require. The boreal forest represents over 60% of the land mass in Canada. In 2005, The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) Canada’s leading wilderness conservation group confirmed its national conservation vision for Canada’s Wilderness calling for the protection of at least 50% of Canada’s wilderness lands, seas and fresh water bodies. In May 2007, more than 1,500 scientists from around the world endorsed the Boreal Conservation Framework’s vision of protecting at least half of the boreal ecosystem in Canada in an interconnected way. Scientists helped to define the map to success by highlighting the focus on: Representing all native ecosystem types in a system of protected areas Maintaining viable populations of all native...
Dehcho First Nations

Dehcho First Nations

A plan to protect at least half The Dehcho is an area of 220,000 sq km located in the Northwest Territories of Canada on the Mackenzie (Deh Cho) River, an area of boreal forest and mountains that are larger than many countries. The Dehcho First Nations are Dene people who have occupied their homeland for time immemorial. Some elders were born on the land and our Slavey language is still spoken. Traditional harvesting activity remains an important economic and cultural pursuit. There is great pressure for industrial development including a major gas pipeline and mining activity. The land is of paramount importance to our people. We have rights protected under section 35 of Canada’s Constitution Act and are engaged in a process with the Government of Canada that addresses the future of our land that will result in a Treaty. Our wilderness conservation efforts began with a traditional areas mapping exercise in which we consulted our people on the areas that were important to their traditional use. We then had that material digitized using western science. The resulting map showed core areas and connecting corridors which we wish to conserve for our people’s traditional use and the protection of the land. We then negotiated with Canada for that area to be withdrawn from further industrial dispositions during our process. We are looking at a variety of legal instruments for permanent protection including working with Parks Canada to have the entire South Nahanni watershed and Ram Plateau (an area of 36,000 sq km.) protected as an expanded national park under Canada’s National Parks Act which we would jointly manage. This...
Silk Road – Transboundary Conservation

Silk Road – Transboundary Conservation

“The greatest threats our planet faces today transcend political borders, whether climate change, poverty, peace and security, water issues, or habitat and biodiversity loss. These are all tightly interlinked challenges, and to tackle them we need to think beyond borders,” Kate Harris of the Cycling Silk team. Cycling Silk is a year-long biking expedition following the Silk Road between Europe and Asia aimed at exploring existing and proposed transboundary conservation initiatives in mountainous regions along the way. Cycling Silk uses bikes to enable the autonomous and adventurous exploration of remote transboundary wildernesses, and to reinforce the notion of the Silk Road – and world itself – as a landscape of continuity and connection, despite the borders that attempt to divide it. In a single uninterrupted push lasting at least a year, starting in Istanbul, Turkey and finishing in Leh, India, we will investigate existing and proposed TBPAs encompassing some of the world’s most spectacular mountains. The Cycling Silk team of Kate Harris and Melissa Yule seek: * To investigate with borderless minds and hearts the pros and cons, successes and shortcomings, complexities and challenges of transboundary wilderness conservation in the mountains and deserts of the Silk Road. * To explore the actual and potential impact of transboundary protected areas (TBPAs) on landscapes, communities, and the geopolitics of regional peace. * To share their explorations through writing, photography, and film, and raise awareness about transboundary conservation. * To make others fall in love with this wild part of the world, through all of the above, since making people care about a place is usually prerequisite for its conservation. Why is...
Peel River Watershed – Canada

Peel River Watershed – Canada

Conservation Groups & First Nations aim for more than HALF! Canada’s Peel River Watershed, encompassing 14% of the Yukon Territory, is one of the largest and most beautiful intact natural ecosystems left in North America. However, industrial development (particularly in the form of roads and exploration for minerals, oil, and gas) threatens to fragment this stunning landscape and harm its delicate ecological balance.  Protect the Peel is working to ensure the long-term protection of this magnificent landscape. Located at the northern end of the Rocky and Mackenzie Mountains chain, this spectacular region is defined by a constellation of wild rivers: the Peel, Ogilvie, Blackstone, Hart, Wind, Snake and Bonnet Plume. One of Canada’s most striking mountain river watersheds, the Peel is the heart of a great boreal and sub-arctic ecosystem with a long cultural history, free-ranging wildlife and a rugged northern beauty. It is a global benchmark of predator-prey ecosystems within a vast primeval wilderness. Sprawling over 43,000 square miles, the Peel Watershed dwarfs many famous landscapes– such as Banff and Yellowstone national parks – in size, unspoiled splendour, and ecological integrity. The World Wildlife Fund ranked the Peel among the top 200 conservation priorities in the world, and it is part of the Canadian Boreal Initiative campaign to protect at least 50% of the North American boreal forest. The watershed is the northern anchor of the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative, a broad-based international project to protect ecosystem connections for wildlife. Wildlife includes a host of high-profile species, such as grizzly bears, wolverines, wolves, Dall’s sheep and caribou that are at risk elsewhere. Extensive wetlands are essential as...
Bhutan

Bhutan

Gross National Happiness includes protected areas. Bhutan has taken a highly proactive approach to maintaining the integrity of its ecosystems and biodiversity by developing a large protected areas system interconnected via biological corridors. The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry’s Nature Conservation Division reports that in 2009 Bhutan had 10 protected areas totaling 16,396.43 km2 representing 42.71% of the country’s surface area, combined with 3,307.14 km2 in biological corridors linking the protected areas and representing 8.61% of the country’s surface area. Thus, Bhutan currently has 51.32% of its area under protection, as announced by the Director of the Department of Forest in November 2009. The protected areas and corridors are managed via a landscape conservation strategy called the Bhutan Biological Conservation Complex or “B2C2”. In the forward of the strategy, Secretary Sangay thinly states: “Key characteristics of the programme include: focus on biodiversity conservation in protected areas; biological corridors and conservation areas; commitment to positive human-nature interactions; promotion of public environmental education; encourage partnerships in conservation programmes to address a wider range of issues; and optimizing the use of limited resources.” (download the full strategy, 2.5MB) In addition Bhutan has a number of small Conservation Areas (some of which are privately managed) totaling less than 1% of its surface area. These are not officially part of Bhutan’s protected areas network, but nonetheless play an important role in species and biodiversity conservation efforts in the country. Finally, Bhutan has also committed to maintaining 60% of its forest cover at all times and has engaged in extensive reforestation projects. Bhutan’s Biodiversity Action Plan states that Bhutan considers conservation to be one of...
Costa Rica

Costa Rica

As of 2009 Costa Rica had 169 protected areas covering 26.2% of its terrestrial area and .9% of its marine area. 13.75% of this total is in strictly protected areas, with the balance allowing some degree of resource extraction. In 1995 Costa Rica initiated a planning process (GRUAS – Propuesta de ordenamiento territorial para la conservacion de la biodiversidad) to assess where added conservation measures would be needed to ensure that 90% of Costa Rica’s biodiversity would be protected. A second phase of this process (GRUAS II) was completed in 2007. GRUAS II produced the following findings: • 5.93% of Costa Rica’s territory is held in private areas that are not permanently protected, but are under short-term (i.e. less than 10 year) contracts for payments for ecosystem services. These contracts might not be renewed after they expire, and therefore these areas would not qualify as protected areas under the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s protected areas definition. On the other hand these areas also have potential for long term conservation. • 36 biological corridors have been identified to provide connectivity between protected areas. • Priority areas necessary to complete the ecological integrity of their protected areas system, would add an additional 5.54% of the country to the protected areas system. • A public consultation system identified an additional 7.2% of the country’s territory as priorities for regional conservation (with some overlaps with the 5.54% identified above). Thus, gaps remain to achieve the 90% target terrestrially marine protected area coverage lags behind terrestrial conservation efforts. However, Costa Rica has undertaken a comprehensive planning process to ensure a representative...
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