An Historic Opportunity
In Canada, a constellation of economic, environmental and political forces have aligned to create an historic opportunity for conservation on a scale almost unimaginable anywhere else in the world.
Canada is rich in oil, timber, natural gas, minerals, metals and fresh water. Worldwide demand for energy and a changing global economy have created an unprecedented push to develop these resources. In the past, many regions—remote, roadless and virtually undeveloped—were considered far too expensive to exploit. Today they represent ground zero in a national debate, with far-reaching repercussions, over who controls Canada’s natural resources.
A string of court rulings has prompted government efforts across Canada to settle disputed land claims with First Nations. This is empowering First Nations to determine how millions of acres of their traditional, resource-rich lands will be used. Now, several provinces and territories in Canada are developing land-use plans in consultation with First Nations, a critical step in moving both resource development and conservation forward.
Hope for the Future
Diverse teams of partners are collaborating to seize this moment and support the government, communities, First Nations and industry in creating networks of protected areas and comprehensive land-use plans that will allow for economic development while ensuring a sustainable future for Canada’s forests.
The Nature Conservancy is:
- Partnering with First Nations and environmental NGOs to place as much as 75 million acres in the Northwest Territories on the path toward permanent protection.
- Supporting agreements in the Great Bear Rainforest that have placed 19 million acres under strict land management guidelines called ecosystem based management, and put 5 million acres off limits to logging.
- Safeguarding wildlife populations in the Great Bear Rainforest, such as wolves and bears, through the development of protected area plans, new methods for monitoring and the abatement of threats.
- Working with timber companies in Northeast Ontario and throughout Canada’s Boreal region to achieve Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification of an additional 17 million acres of working forests.
- Transforming the Boreal Information Centre into a state-of-the-art, internet-based service that provides scientific and ecological data on the Boreal to people who need the information for land-use planning, decision-making and management purposes.
Today, the people of Canada have the chance to step outside the old models of exploitation and loss that marked the last century, and seize this narrow window of opportunity to get it right the first time. The Nature Conservancy is providing workable solutions that will enable development while preserving the irreplaceable natural systems that sustain ancient trees, large populations of caribou, wolves and grizzly bears, wild salmon runs, and human communities that have drawn their strength and inspiration from Canada’s forests for thousands of years.