Boreal forest stories tapped

March 5, 2008

The knowledge of aboriginal leaders is being paired up with technology to help conserve and protect Manitoba’s boreal forests through the Aboriginal Boreal Conservation Leaders Project.

“I think this will be a valuable contribution to Manitoban society,” said Ron Theissen, executive director of the Manitoba chapter of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS).

He said the project, centred around a new website, will help gather knowledge and stories from aboriginal people, making them available to a wider audience and educating them on the important role played by Canadian forests.

“It’s designed to inspire others to get involved and get educated,” said Theissen, noting the website links people with volunteer and work opportunities as well. Visitors to the site are also able to respond to stories in a blog-like format.

Members of the aboriginal community were on hand yesterday for the launch of the project in downtown Winnipeg.

“The Fisher River people have used the resources in the area for a long time and know their value,” said David Crate, chief of Fisher River First Nation, who helped launch the project.

Fisher River is currently pushing for the creation of a provincial park four times the size of Winnipeg around the southwest basin of Lake Winnipeg, and Crate believes initiatives like this one can help generate support.

Less than 8% of Manitoba’s boreal region is protected from industrial development, a number both Fisher River members and CPWS would like to see grow.

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