Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 12/1/2015 (953 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Two conservation organizations issued a joint statement Monday that pointedly praised Manitoba’s efforts to protect the boreal forest.
It turns out that Manitoba’s chapter of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) and Ducks Unlimited had a political reason to heap the province with environmental laurels in the new year: They wanted to draw attention to the North ahead of the 2016 provincial election.
"It’s about leadership and the election in 2016. So let’s remind people to keep this file alive. Sometimes northerners fall off the radar, but the North, it’s a great place and there’s lots of cool stuff going on," said Chris Smith, head of boreal conservation with Ducks Unlimited Canada.
Smith is a northerner and in a phone interview from his home in Cranberry Portage, he said it’s easy to forget that 80 per cent of Manitoba is boreal forest and much of it is still wilderness.
Cranberry Portage is located 715 kilometres northwest of Winnipeg near the Saskatchewan border, in the heart of the boreal. Manitoba’s boreal lakes and forests are often praised for their environmental and economic benefits.
"It’s not about developing everything in the North or protecting everything. It’s about finding a balance," Smith said.
CPAWS's Manitoba chapter felt a message in the early in 2015 would send out the right signal for the province’s election next year.
"We’re sending out a signal that Manitoba has a wonderful opportunity that most places in the world have lost, because our most of our landscape is still intact," CPAWS executive director Ron Thiessen by phone.
The joint statement celebrated the "top six" reasons the boreal forest has a brighter future in 2015, thanks to political initiatives in 2014.
The top six identified were:
- New collaborations with First Nations to establish and manage provincial parks. There were two last year, including Skownan First Nation with Chitek Lake Provincial Park and Grand Rapids with Walter Cook Caves Ecological Reserve.
- A nation-leading strategy to protect threatened woodland caribou.
- Commitments by both the NDP and Conservatives to develop comprehensive sustainable development policies for the province’s North. Premier Greg Selinger’s NDP government has Manitoba’s Green Plan; the Conservative opposition, under Brian Pallister, rolled out its Northern Lights Strategy last June.
- New legislation to protect vulnerable boreal peatlands. The Peatlands Stewardship Act created "no-go zones" for commercial peat development. It also allowed the province to ban mining, forestry, agriculture and hydro developments on peatlands designated as significant.
- New Prairie drainage rules designed to restore the health of Lake Winnipeg, identified by the Global Nature Fund as the world’s most threatened lake of the year in 2013.
- Finally, there were new approaches in 2014 to road construction aimed at conserving wetlands in areas opening up to industrial development.
"There were plenty of reasons to cheer in 2014 about boreal conservation and there’s a great opportunity in 2015 to keep building on these successes," Thiessen said in the statement.
"We’re very fortunate. For a long time we’ve had forestry, and mining exploration and lots of hydro but despite those developments, there’s a large portion of the province yet to be developed and this provides Manitoba with a unique opportunity to plan a more co-ordinated approach," Smith said by phone.