CPAWS Celebrates Alberta’s Announcement of the World’s Largest Boreal Protected Areas Network
— Press Release May 15, 2018
EDMONTON – Canada’s boreal forest faces a brighter future with today’s exciting protected areas announcement from the Government of Alberta! This afternoon, Alberta’s Minister of Environment and Parks announced the creation and expansion of five wildland provincial parks in northeast Alberta, making up an addition of 1.36 million hectares to Alberta’s protected areas network.
Together with Wood Buffalo National Park and the Caribou Mountains Wildland Provincial Park, these areas make up the largest contiguous, legislated boreal protected area network in the world. The new wildland provincial parks also set the stage for Indigenous community involvement with the proposed development of Indigenous co-management processes and Indigenous Guardian programs.
“CPAWS is thrilled to see the Government of Alberta legislatively protect boreal forest and caribou habitat in one of Canada’s busiest industrial landscapes, and to include Indigenous co-management development proposals,” says Tara Russell, CPAWS Northern Alberta Program Director. “We would like to extend gratitude and congratulations to the Tall Cree First Nation, Nature Conservancy of Canada, and Syncrude for their contributions to the new boreal protected area network. This is the largest single announcement of protected land added to the parks network by Alberta and shows great leadership and a commitment to our province’s future health and wellbeing.”
While there is still much work to be done with Indigenous communities to address concerns regarding conservation of the Peace Athabasca Delta, these new parks make Alberta a leader in conservation of caribou habitat and the world’s boreal forest, and is a step to be applauded.
“We hope to see an Indigenous co-management development process that truly provides a voice for Indigenous communities to decide how lands are managed and protected. This will be precedent setting for this part of Alberta, and we want to see it done right, and respectfully,” stated Dr. Kecia Kerr, Executive Director of CPAWS Northern Alberta.
Today’s announcement marks a big step towards achieving Canada’s targets under the Pathway to Target 1 process, which aims to protect 17% of Canada’s land and freshwater as part of Canada’s commitments to the international community under the Convention on Biological Diversity.
“Legislative protection, like the 1.36 million hectares announced today, help fulfil Alberta’s obligations to recover woodland caribou with the additions of protected areas in four woodland caribou ranges, and prove that there are opportunities for collaborative solutions for conservation between industry leaders, communities, and Indigenous communities. If there are protected area solutions in this busy landscape, then we can find them in all caribou ranges and in other sensitive ecosystems that are not sufficiently protected,” says Russell.
Now, with 14.5% protection of its landscape, Alberta could become the first jurisdiction within Canada to achieve 17% protection. Completion of other on-going land-use planning processes, such as caribou range planning, addressing concerns expressed by Indigenous communities around Wood Buffalo National Park, and the North Saskatchewan Regional Plan, will protect and conserve other underrepresented ecosystems and solidify Alberta’s leadership position.
Alberta’s boreal forest is a haven for wildlife, migratory songbirds, and waterfowl, and is one of the largest sources of freshwater on the planet. Conserving portions of this ecologically and economically significant area is crucial to protecting biodiversity, wilderness, and wildlife, but also to maintaining our reputation as an environmentally responsible province and country. Today’s historic announcement provides hope for the future of our province.
For more information:
Dr. Kecia Kerr, Executive Director, CPAWS Northern Alberta Chapter
Phone: 780-328-3780 ext. 1
Tara Russell, Program Director, CPAWS Northern Alberta Chapter
Phone: 780-328-3780 ext. 3
The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society
The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) is Canada’s only nationwide charity dedicated solely to the protection of our public land and water and ensuring our parks are managed to protect the biodiversity within them. Over the last 50+ years, CPAWS has played a lead role in protecting over half a million square kilometres – an area bigger than the entire Yukon Territory. Our vision is to protect at least half of our public land and water so that future generations can experience Canada’s irreplaceable wilderness.
CPAWS has chapters in almost every province and territory across Canada, and two chapters here in Alberta – a Southern Alberta chapter located in Calgary and a Northern Alberta chapter located in Edmonton. As a collaborative organization, CPAWS works closely with government of all levels, industry representatives, and communities to manage our impact on a shared landscape. We also advocate for the creation of parks and protected areas for the benefit of both current and future generations of Canadians.