For Immediate Release -July 24, 2017
Winnipeg – In its latest annual report on the state of protected areas in Canada, the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) is calling upon Manitoba to step up efforts to preserve more land by 2020. CPAWS’ 2017 report “From Laggard to Leader? Canada’s renewed focus on protecting nature could deliver results” calls Canada out for ranking last among G7 countries in the percentage of land and freshwater protected for conservation purposes, and encourages governments to accelerate the conservation of natural heritage in Canada, starting by delivering on their international commitment.
With only 10.6% of its landscape currently protected, Canada lags behind the global average of 15%, and also trails other large countries such as China, Brazil, and Australia. In 2010, as part of a worldwide effort to stem the tide of biodiversity loss, Canada committed under the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity to protecting at least 17% of land and inland waters by 2020 and improving the quality of their protected area systems to more effectively conserve nature.
The report recognizes that Canadian governments are finally starting to take this commitment seriously after years of inaction. In February 2017, federal, provincial and territorial Ministers responsible for parks and protected areas publicly announced their commitment to work together to achieve this target. A new Pathway to 2020 process was initiated, and the Indigenous Circle of Experts and National Advisory Panel appointed to advise Ministers on this work.
“In Manitoba, we have seen limited recent progress in the establishment of new protected areas ‘’ says Ron Thiessen, Executive Director of CPAWS’ Manitoba Chapter “That said, great opportunities exist for conservation on a large scale, especially in the Boreal region of the province. If properly resourced, the Manitoba Protected Areas Initiative and comprehensive planning for the large Resource Management Areas in the north could allow the province to reach the 2020 targets and beyond ’’.
Just over 11% of lands and inland waters in Manitoba are currently protected. Minister of Sustainable Development, Cathy Cox has accredited protected areas as the most effective and economical way to protect wildlife populations, maintain natural cycles and safeguard pristine areas. Her departmental mandate also calls for the development of land-use and conservation measures that contribute to the fight against climate change through the sequestration of carbon.
As the Boreal covers 80% of Manitoba and is the most carbon dense terrestrial ecosystem on earth, balancing conservation with sustainable developments offers the best opportunity to address multiple government priorities and commitments.
“With less than 3 years to fulfill our 2020 commitment, we need to get going now,” adds Eric Hébert-Daly, CPAWS’ National Executive Director. “In the report we identify places across Canada where a considerable amount of work has already been done on proposed protected areas. By acting now to permanently protect these sites, while also planning for what’s needed to conserve nature in the long term, Canada has a chance to move from laggard to leader.”
Protected areas are important to conserve wildlife and wilderness, as well as provide clean air and water for all Canadians, store carbon, and play a major role in improving our health and well-being. They also make economic sense. Protected areas around the world generate US$600 billion per year in direct spending, while costing less than US$10 billion per year to manage.
For over 50 years, CPAWS has been working with all levels of government, and other partners across the country to protect more of Canada’s public lands. As the only nationwide charity dedicated to the protection of our public lands and water, we are uniquely positioned to help governments protect what nature really needs.
For interviews, contact:
Ron Thiessen, Executive Director, CPAWS Manitoba