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Boreal forest area closer to becoming UNESCO site: Selinger

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One of the world’s last remaining areas of intact southern boreal forest is a step closer to becoming a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Manitoba government says.

Premier Greg Selinger, attending a UN conference on sustainable development in Rio de Janeiro, announced that Pauingassi and Little Grand Rapids First Nations had submitted land management plans that will help move international recognition of the area forward.

"Through these proposed management plans, the Little Grand Rapids and Pauingassi First Nations have defined how the land and resources will be protected while supporting sustainable economic development opportunities," said Selinger.

"These plans form a critical part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site proposal to recognize this tract of southern boreal forest. They will also help ensure the long-term social, economic and environmental well-being of local residents and all Manitobans."

The plans for each First Nation have been officially submitted to the province for approval and will be finalized following a public consultation period.

The planning areas form part of a 33,400-square-kilometre expanse of protected southern boreal forest currently under consideration for the UNESCO World Heritage Site designation as an area of outstanding natural and cultural universal value.

The area, located east of Lake Winnipeg and extending into Ontario, is considered rare because it is one of the last remaining sections of southern boreal undisturbed by industrial development. It is home to threatened species such as the woodland caribou.

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