Support grows for boreal forest as World Heritage Site

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OTTAWA — A multimillion-dollar quest to designate part of Manitoba and Ontario as a World Heritage Site is on track to succeed this summer, after 14 years of lobbying.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 16/05/2018 (1554 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

OTTAWA — A multimillion-dollar quest to designate part of Manitoba and Ontario as a World Heritage Site is on track to succeed this summer, after 14 years of lobbying.

On Wednesday, two committees that deal with heritage designation referred the Pimachiowin Aki project to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

The bid is led by First Nations people living in the boreal forest in eastern Manitoba and northwestern Ontario, for whom it holds both cultural and natural significance. Submitting a bid based on those two elements has made it a more complicated proposal, as UNESCO tends to examine them through individual committees.

J.J. Ali / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES The Bloodvein River in eastern Manitoba is part of the Pimachiowin Aki bid for UNESCO World Site status.

UNESCO will decide on the bid at a summit in Bahrain from June 24 to July 4. Supporters hope UNESCO status will attract tourism, economic activity and research into climate change.

“This unique and environmentally important part of the province is worthy of our protection and we are pleased to see support for our efforts continue to grow,” wrote provincial Sustainable Development Minister Rochelle Squires on Wednesday.

Manitoba has spent the bulk of the $15 million on the bid, though Ontario has also contributed.

The former NDP government proposed rerouting the proposed Bipole III transmission line through the west side of Lake Manitoba instead of the east part of Lake Winnipeg, in part to reduce the impact on the possible UNESCO site. That change cost roughly $1 billion, and it’s part of the PC government’s review of major hydro projects.

Pimachiowin Aki is an Ojibwa phrase that means “the land that gives life.” The tract of land includes the Poplar River, Bloodvein, Pauingassi and Little Grand Rapids First Nations in Manitoba, and Crown land in both provinces.

The site is 29,040 square kilometres of boreal forest and traditional Ojibwa (Anishinaabe) territory, roughly the size of Belgium. It was 13 per cent larger before Pikangikum First Nation in Ontario pulled out of the bid in 2016.

dylan.robertson@freepress.mb.ca

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