July 2, 2008

Promoting a World Heritage Site designation for the boreal forest
straddling the east side of Lake Winnipeg and northwest Ontario
is on the agenda as Conservation Minister Stan Struthers travels
to Quebec City on Friday to meet with Ambassador Gilles Laurin,
Canada’s permanent delegate to the United Nations Educational,
Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

“Giving this internationally important boreal area a World
Heritage Site designation will yield both economic and cultural
benefits to remote First Nation communities and ensure the
environmental protection of a wealth of forests, lakes and
wildlife habitat,” said Struthers.

Struthers will be joined by representatives of Pimachiowin Aki, a
non-profit corporation made up of four First Nations and the
Manitoba and Ontario governments.  Pimachiowin Aki is led by
First Nations and together the board and staff have been working
for just over a year to develop an application for the UNESCO
designation due in 2011.

“The meeting this week in Quebec is a valuable opportunity to
share information about the Pimachiown Aki World Heritage
project.  Minister’s Struthers’ continued support is key to the
success of this initiative,” said Gord Jones, Pimachiowin Aki
project manager.

The area involves about 40,000 square kilometres and includes
traditional territories of the Little Grand Rapids, Paunigassi,
Pikangikum and Poplar River First Nations.  It also includes
Atikaki Provincial Park in Manitoba and Woodland Caribou
Provincial Park in Ontario.

The project has already generated considerable international
interest since the site would fill an identified gap in the World
Heritage Site system of protected areas and because it proposes
an innovative approach to land management that combines
traditional Anishinabe and western scientific knowledge.

The site combines natural and cultural features.  It has
exceptional ecological value with extensive undisturbed forests,
lakes and wetlands that reflect unique geological processes and
represent critical habitat for several threatened or endangered
species including woodland caribou, bald eagles and wolverines.

The site also represents an outstanding example of traditional
Aboriginal life based on a close and enduring relationship to the
land.  Archeological evidence in the area attests to over
5,000 years of habitation by the Anishinabe people.

The nomination, built on community-based land-use plans, will
produce important outcomes including a network of linked
protected areas and an innovative management system that combines
western and indigenous knowledge.  If the nomination is
successful, the Pimachiowin Aki site would be one of only a
handful of locations on the World Heritage List that is
recognized for both outstanding cultural and natural heritage

The UNESCO World Heritage List was established through an
international effort to identify and protect sites of universally
outstanding value so that they would survive for the benefit of
all humanity. Joining the list of well-known sites such as the
Pyramids of Giza, Great Barrier Reef, Taj Mahal and Grand Canyon
will take considerable effort but will have great reward, said

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