Opaskwayak Cree Nation, adjacent to The Pas, Manitoba, Feb 17, 2015— Manitoba’s northerners and interested citizens are gathering in Opaskwayak Cree Nation today to discuss the future of the province’s Boreal Region, a vast, largely intact tract of forest and wetlands that accounts for approximately 80 per cent of Manitoba’s landscape.
The Boreal Summit was organized and is being conducted by the Manitoba government. It is a valuable and necessary first step to getting the input needed from northern communities, Indigenous people, business leaders, and conservationists to design a boreal plan for the region.
The immense boreal landscape remains largely without commitments to industrial resource uses, including forestry, mining and hydro-electricity. It has only recently become technologically and economically feasible for expansive development.
“Manitoba is envied around the world for having a canvas that we can paint with a balance of sustainable developments and a wholesome environment,” said Ron Thiessen, executive director of CPAWS’ Manitoba chapter. “In many jurisdictions, the brushes have splattered their entire landscapes with piece-meal developments and now they are trying to restore a healthy balance, which is extremely challenging and expensive.”
The Summit is well-timed for starting the process toward a sustainable plan for Manitoba’s Boreal. A Probe Research poll released last week clearly showed that Manitobans are most likely to support the idea of land-use policies that strike a balance between development and conservation. More than one-half of those surveyed (62 per cent) agree that there should be equilibrium between these two activities. Almost nine of 10 Manitobans said at least half of the boreal region should remain free from development.
“It’s clear we are ready to design a plan for maintaining our wildlife populations and ecological services such as fresh water and clean air in tandem with business investment, partnerships, and employment that are so good for the economy,” says Thiessen. “Everyone in Manitoba would benefit. It is our good fortune that we have the opportunity to plan for a future founded on principles of responsible land use and protection.”
For more information and/or photographs, please contact Ron Thiessen at 204 794-4971 or [email protected]