World calling on Manitoba to protect 20% by 2020

December 11, 2013

Global wilderness forum resolution

For Immediate Release

Over 1000 delegates from more than 65 nations have passed a resolution commending Manitoba for our progress on establishing protected wilderness areas and urging the province to commit to working with all Manitobans to safeguard 20% of our wild lands and waters from industrial developments by 2020.

Signatories to the resolution introduced at The 10th World Wilderness Congress, held this year in Salamanca, Spain include scientists, conservationists, government officials, and Indigenous leaders from around the world.

Ron Thiessen of the Manitoba chapter of the Canadian Parks & Wilderness Society highlights Manitoba’s Boreal Forest Region, covering about 80% of the province’s land base, as our greatest conservation opportunity.

“In Manitoba’s Boreal, we are blessed in our role as stewards of a significant part of the world’s largest intact forest. With that comes the opportunity, and the responsibility, to plan for both healthy and prosperous communities and protection of the natural environment over the long term,” said Thiessen. “Most jurisdictions in the world have lost this chance as piece-meal developments have already impacted the majority of their natural areas.”

Through TomorrowNow, Manitoba’s Green Plan, the province has made a commitment to develop a new Protected Areas Strategy. The Plan states that Manitoba “will be unmatched in park proximity, the number and hectares of park, ecological reserves, wildlife management areas and protected areas per capita, ecological diversity, and visitor services.” According to CPAWS’ analysis, protecting 20% of our wilderness areas from industrial developments such as logging, mining, and associated roads by 2020 will help to achieve this laudable goal.   It will also make Manitoba one of the first places to exceed the Aichi Targets set in the international convention of biological diversity.

Nations from across the globe are watching Manitoba and hoping we achieve a balance in our Boreal region. The Boreal is the world’s largest source of fresh water and has been deemed the northern lungs of the earth due to its tremendous oxygen production.

Every Canadian relies on the Boreal for jobs, food, or supplies. Many communities depend on the Boreal for practicing traditional activities such as fishing and hunting as well as economic opportunities such as logging, mining, and tourism.

Stretching from coast to coast across Canada, Russia, and northern Europe, the circumpolar boreal forest region is a mosaic of interconnected wildlands and waters. The boreal is dominated by tree species such as birch, poplar, pine, and spruce. It is home to over 600 Aboriginal communities and to a plethora of wildlife including songbirds, ducks, fox, eagles, owls, elk, moose, and the threatened woodland caribou.

The World Wilderness Congress is the world’s largest and longest-running international public environment forum – a collaboration of many organizations to unite conservation scientists, conservationists, practitioners, government representatives, Indigenous peoples, and local communities to debate and act on issues threatening wilderness and to share and create solutions to make the world a wilder place.

CPAWS is a national conservation organization with the goal of protecting at least 50% of Canada’s wild lands and waters.

For more information, please contact Ron Thiessen, Executive Director, CPAWS Manitoba chapter at 204 794 4971 or 204 453 6346.

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