Manitoba steps up on Aboriginal land management in the Boreal region
Ottawa, December 1, 2008: The Canadian Boreal Initiative (CBI) applauds the introduction today of the East Side Traditional Lands Planning and Special Protected Areas Act by the Manitoba government which, once passed, will grant greater authority to Aboriginal communities to protect culturally and ecologically important lands and to plan to sustainably develop resources for other economic opportunities in their traditional territories. It is a key mechanism to advance in real terms the proposed UNESCO World Heritage Site in this globally-significant boreal region.
"This is a nationally significant step by Manitoba’s Premier and by First Nations leaders to establish real partnerships to sustainably manage traditional lands” said Larry Innes, Executive Director of CBI.
"First Nations communities are planning for the future on their traditional lands and this legislation will enable them to realize their visions,” said Innes. "We are pleased to see the province introducing this forward-looking legislation, which acknowledges and respects the rights of Aboriginal people and positions Manitoba as a leading jurisdiction in balancing cultural and ecological protection with sustainable development within Canada’s Boreal region."
"Today's announcement recognizes how important the role of each Aboriginal community is in making decisions about conservation and land use planning on traditional lands," said Susan Casey-Lefkowitz senior attorney at the U.S. based Natural Resources Defense Council. "This part of the Boreal is of global cultural and ecological importance and the people that live there are critical to its future conservation and sustainable development."
Land use planning enables integrated conservation solutions – including the establishment of conservation areas and the determination of appropriate thresholds for industrial activities – in advance of new developments. Land use planning is a key element of the Boreal Forest Conservation Framework, a balanced vision for conservation and development in Canada’s Boreal Forest which supports communities and calls on governments to move to protect at least half of the Boreal Forest and to adopt world-class standards for development in the rest.
The Boreal Conservation Framework is endorsed by leading conservationists, First Nations, resource companies and financial institutions, including the members of the Boreal Leadership Council who are committed to protecting key ecological and cultural values, developing and adopting leading edge best management practices and promoting long-term conservation solutions.
The conservation vision behind the Framework is building momentum across the country. In July 2008, the Government of Ontario made commitments to protect 50% of its Far North region in the spirit of this vision, and Quebec Premier Charest recently made 50% protection of the North an election promise.
Manitoba's Boreal region covers nearly 600,000 square kilometres, almost 90% of the province. Canada's Boreal region contains one-quarter of the world's remaining original forests and huge expanses of wetlands. Canada's boreal is home to a vast array of wildlife, including migratory songbirds, waterfowl, bears, and caribou. It is an immensely important buffer against climate change. The region's natural wealth sustains hundreds of First Nations communities and supports thousands of jobs.
The Canadian Boreal Initiative brings together diverse partners to create new solutions for Boreal conservation and acts as a catalyst for on-the-ground efforts across the Boreal forest by governments, industry, First Nations, conservation groups, major retailers, financial institutions and scientists.
For more information, please contact:
Suzanne Fraser, director of communications
(613) 552-7277, firstname.lastname@example.org
NRDC is an American environmental advocacy group with 1.2 million members and online activists. NRDC has recognized the East Side of Lake Winnipeg as a BioGem, an area of high ecological significance in the Americas.
Contact: Susan Casey-Lefkowitz, 646-287-6225