Proposed marine protected areas a diverse collection of 12 sites

Proposed marine protected areas a diverse collection of 12 sites

What is a marine protected area? According to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans of Canada, it is a specific geographical space managed to achieve the long-term conservation of nature. Some of the MPA’s are fully marine, while others have terrestrial components. The DFO says that there are more than 700 MPA’s in Canada that cover about 56,000 square kilometers of the country’s oceans and Great Lakes.  According to Sabine Jessen, CPAWS oceans protection manager, only about 1% of Canada’s oceans are protected. 14 Canadian scientists are saying at least 30% should be fully protected with no fishing in them— they have a long way to go. But CPAWS says the definition of a marine protected area is too loose; MPA’s should be off limits to fishing, shipping and any other commercial and industrial activity. Because of this, CPAWS is urging the federal government to create 12 new MPA’s by the end of next year to ensure the survival of species such as leatherback turtles, right whales and narwhal.  These 12 sites are a diverse collection of areas; they range from the Laurentian Channel that has the largest concentration of black dogfish in Canada, to Lancaster Sound where seabirds number in the millions, to the Scott Islands that are home to one of the largest Steller sea lion rookeries in the world. The overall goal of establishing these 12 MPA’s is to protect endangered species. Jessen says, “While you might have an initial impact in the fishing industry, in the long term we are actually ensuring much healthier ocean ecosystems, not just in the marine protected areas.” Taking any...

Sonoran family voluntary protects land in Mexico as haven for wildlife

Conservation of natural lands couldn’t happen without the support and passion of individuals.  From government decision makers to grassroots advocates, passionate individuals fuel global conservation.  Private conservation easements are one way in which individuals or families who own land can contribute to the Nature Needs Half vision.  In basic terms, a conservation easement legally designates an area for conservation through partnership with government (municipal, county, state or federal) or a private entity to restrict future development or industrial uses. A family in Sonora, located just 30 miles south of the US-Mexico border, recently did just that by voluntarily setting aside their ranch for wildlife conservation. In March 2011 the Mexican National Commission of Natural Protected Areas (CONANP) announced the designation of “Rancho El Aribabi” as a Natural Protected Area, under the category of Voluntary Land Conservation. The designation protects 10,000 acres of private property located in Municipality of Imuris, Sonora for ecosystem and biodiversity conservation, environmental education and ecotourism. The ongoing management of “Rancho El Aribabi” will be done in partnership between CONANP and the family.  And, while there is no financial incentive for their conservation commitment, it is clear that there are many benefit for the family: “Our family is proud to provide a preserve for the region’s plants and animals in perpetuity,” says Carlos Robles Elias, owner of Rancho El Aribabi. “For my family it means sharing our lives with all the wildlife that surrounds us. It is very satisfactory and it teaches us, and society in general, to share the world. Whether we realize it or not, we all have a commitment to protect the natural...

Why “interconnected” is important

Sarah Kuck recently wrote a great article for YES! Magazine about why wildlife needs room to roam and why connecting protected areas is important.  She highlights issues such as global climate shifts, loss of natural predators and the need for conservation to include economic opportunities for local communities.  Her dialog very clearly and concisely summarizes the need for large, protected areas that are interconnected – in essence, why Nature Needs Half.  Here is a brief excerpt, and I encourage you to read the full article “Wildlife Right of Way” > (But) biologists like Michael Soulé and Reed Noss say grizzlies, wolves, and other big mammals shouldn’t be a casualty of modern society. They could make a comeback—if we give them what they need most: space. Soulé and Noss presented a new method for conservation in their 1998 paper, “Rewilding and Biodiversity: Complementary Goals for Continental Conservation.” They discussed how the expansion of national parks and protected lands is necessary but only part of the answer. To piece back together the vast ecosystems that once stretched across North America, rewilding suggests an additional focus on reconnecting the scattered pockets of remaining wilderness, and on re-establishing predator populations. These methods have now evolved from conservation idea to practice and have become promising tools for fighting biodiversity loss. Conservation is often about saving one dwindling population, one small remnant. Rewilding asks us to think big—to envision a continent-wide conservation strategy, with large core areas of protected land linked by lush, safe passageways for migrating species. Rewilding says that, although saving big spaces is critical, linking the spaces is just as crucial to...

Quebec’s Protected Areas Strategic Plan

On 18 May 2011, Quebec announced is Protected Areas strategic plan.  The plan’s targets include protecting 10% of marine areas and 12% of land area by 2015. This is a positive step towards a network of protected areas totally 50%. The Québec network of protected areas currently covers 8.35% of the province.  Read the full plan...

Nature Needs Half in the Economist

Boreal blues – In the frigid north tension grows between conservation and development CANADA’S vast boreal zone contains the world’s largest intact old-growth forest and has more fresh water than the Amazon. Its flora help to slow climate change and it is a breeding ground for 3 billion migratory songbirds. Only 12% of the region is now formally protected, well below the 50% scientists say is necessary to save its ecosystem. On May 9th Quebec unveiled the Plan Nord, a C$2.1 billion ($2.2 billion) proposal that seeks both to develop its northern region and to safeguard its environment. But whether those two objectives are actually compatible remains open for debate. Continue reading...

Update from Cycling Silk: Explaining Borders to the Birds

Here’s the most recent update from Kate & Mel of Cycling Silk…. In the world of strict plans and fixed agendas, detours are just distractions. But on the Cycling Silk expedition, detours often prove the destination – and not just because we frequently get lost. So when KuzeyDoğa, an award-winning Turkish NGO, invited us to explore their biodiversity conservation projects in the borderlands of eastern Turkey – wooing us with wild animals, wide open spaces, and a visit to a Turkish bath – we knew it would be worth diverting from our intended route for a visit. After all, we hadn’t showered in a week. So we steered south, away from the Black Sea, and began climbing onto the Kars Plateau, swapping heavy rain for heavier snow along the way. The roads grew so slick with ice we had to work twice as hard to go half as fast. Sometimes we couldn’t bike at all. Climbing a pass during a blizzard, the snow not so much falling as firing, flakes sharp and aimed as arrows, the police stopped us and made us cross the pass in a truck (driven by Osman and Mustafa, of course.) At least the heated cab offered respite from the snot-crackling, lung-stiffening cold. Surviving on the bike in such conditions required cartwheel breaks to centrifugally force blood back into extremities. While I exulted in this suddenly polar world, cryophile that I am, Mel may never join me on another winter adventure again, even if she someday thaws out from this one. Whether because of the cold or despite it, we fell in love with Kars....
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