Manitoba’s Protected Areas goal to establish a network of protected areas to represent each natural region began in 1990. The Manitoba governments then and since made commitments to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Canada’s Endangered Spaces Campaign. By the end of the WWF campaign in 2000, Manitoba lead the country in the proportion of our lands and waters protected from development during the previous decade.
Protected areas in Manitoba mean a protection and management standard that does not allow resource extraction or development – logging, mining, hydro development, oil and gas or any activity that significantly changes habitat. Under Manitoba’s parks act, there are land use classifications or zones within provincial parks that allow resource extraction, while others are specifically for protected areas. Several acts of Manitoba’s Legislature are used for designation of protected areas in the province.
Protected Area definition: “A protected area is free of logging, mining, hydro-electric, oil and gas development, as well as other activities that could significantly and adversely affect natural habitat.”
Protected Areas Initiative stalled?
While progress has been made, Manitoba’s Network of Protected Areas was not completed by 2000. Over 100 candidate sites have been identified for possible protected status over the past few years but the program has slowed to a snail’s pace. This is largely due to a lack of political will that has resulted in a lack of human resources to complete the work required.
Protected Areas Initiative staff has been involved in adding Manitoba protected areas to CARTS (Conservation Areas Reporting and Tracking System), a Canadian conservation areas information system supported through the Canadian Council on Ecological Areas. This countrywide database standardizes how information is reported and allows viewers to see what is protected and where there are gaps.