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The Pew Charitable Trusts applauds Canadian Boreal Forest protection

October 13, 2006
LUTSEL'KE, Northwest Territories — October 13, 2006 — Canadian Environment Minister Rona Ambrose traveled to the remote Northwest Territories of Canada today, deep into the Canadian Boreal Forest, to sign a landmark agreement with the Lutsel K'e Dene First Nation outlining steps to establish a new 8 million acre National Park surrounding the East Arm of Great Slave Lake. Nearly four times the size of Yellowstone National Park, this is but one of a series of vast new preserves under consideration in the Mackenzie River watershed, which bisects Canada's Boreal Forest. Minister Ambrose also reaffirmed today the Canadian government's commitment to advance other protected area proposals in the region, collectively covering tens of millions more acres.

The Pew Charitable Trusts (PCT) and other international and Canadian conservation groups expressed strong support for these announcements. Steve Kallick, director of PCT's International Boreal Conservation Campaign said, "Canada's Boreal Forest is a global treasure and today the Canadian government recognized millions of its acres as priceless."

The Pew Charitable Trusts also praised the government's demonstration of a commitment to working with and empowering local aboriginal groups and small, isolated boreal forest communities as full partners in making critical conservation and development decisions. "The accord between the Lutsel K'e and the government sets a great example," Kallick said. "From the local community to the world community, everyone gains. That should be the new model going forward across Canada's Boreal"

Pew and other conservation groups see Minister Ambrose's actions as the leading edge of a broader response to growing Canadian and international concern about the future of this vast wilderness region, now under heavy development pressure from energy, mining and timber interests. "Logging alone claims over two million acres of the boreal each year, the equivalent of 4000 football fields a day, and that is only one of the many threats" Kallick said. "Without this scale of conservation action, most of the Canadian Boreal could be lost in our lifetimes."

Active in North American wilderness conservation efforts since the early 1990s, PCT organized and has been the driving force behind the Canadian Boreal Initiative (CBI) and its unusual coalition of Canadian and international conservation groups, logging and energy companies, First Nations and other key players. (see www.borealcanada.org) CBI advocates application of a comprehensive conservation and sustainable development plan for the 1.4 billion acre Canadian Boreal Forest—which ranks with the Amazon as one of the earth's last great unspoiled forests but is being diminished at a comparably rapid rate.

Providing legal and technical analysis, publicity, coordination and other forms of valuable assistance over the last five years, PCT worked in close partnership with the Canadian Boreal Initiative (CBI) and World Wildlife Fund (WWF) to support the Lutsel K'e First Nation in its land protection efforts. In other areas slated for protection in the Mackenzie Valley, PCT has been working closely with CBI, WWF, Ducks Unlimited, and the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society to support other First Nations and communities in their land protection efforts.

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CONTACTS: Steve Kallick, Director, International Boreal Conservation Campaign, Pew Charitable Trusts, 215-817-1676 or skallick@pewtrusts.org.

Larry Innes, (acting) Executive Director, Canadian Boreal Initiative, 613-XXX-XXXX or linnes@borealcanada.ca



FACTS ABOUT TODAY'S CANADIAN BOREAL FOREST PROTECTION ANNOUCEMENTS:

Once evaluation processes are complete, the new Thaydene Nene National Park will protect approximately 8 million acres of beautiful and highly valued natural area along the East Arm of the Great Slave Lake.

The proposed park region has been home to the Lutsel K'e Dene for at least 7000 years and has suffered few impacts of industrial development to date, but has recently been the focus of intensive mining exploration and claims.

It is anticipated that the Lutsel K'e Dene and other First Nations in the Akaitcho Region will ask for additional protected areas to be established within their traditional lands.

The spectacular shoreline cliffs and hills of Thaydene Nene are home to an abundance of caribou, grizzly bear, wolves, and wood bison, as well as major populations of ducks, songbirds and other migratory species.

Other Boreal forest tracts slated for protection soon include tens of millions of acres in the greater Mackenzie River watershed, which is currently threatened by an 800 mile natural gas pipeline project, tar sands mining on millions more acres, and new developments that will be facilitated by the pipeline project.

The agreement between Parks Canada and the Lutsel'ke Dene First Nation commits the parties to working cooperatively towards the establishment of Thaydene Nene as a National Park of Canada. Over the next several years, the parties will undertake a feasibility study together with important initiatives to provide resources for the Dene to fully participate in all aspects of park operations and management.
Banner photo credit: Northern Images, by Wayne Sawchuck
Jennings Lake in northern BC



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