Canada's New Yellowstone: Two Million Acres of Canadian Boreal Forest Wilderness Protected

NRDC Congratulates Poplar River First Nation and the Province of Manitoba

Josh Mogerman, 312-651-7909

WASHINGTON (June 16, 2011) -- The provincial government of Manitoba, Canada has granted permanent legal protection to approximately two million acres of the endangered Heart of the Boreal Forest -- an area the size of Yellowstone -- in accord with the wishes of the indigenous community that is the steward of this land.

“The stunning success of Poplar River’s Chiefs, Council Members, Elders, community members and of the Manitoba Government over the past years will protect these traditional lands for generations to come,” said Frances Beinecke, NRDC President. “Poplar River First Nation and the Province of Manitoba are making a staggering contribution to the stewardship of the world’s boreal forests – one of our last unspoiled ecosystems, described by many as the lungs of the planet.””

For over seven years, the Natural Resources Defense Council and partners in Canada have been supporting Poplar River First Nation in their land use planning process and their efforts to manage traditional lands in the Boreal Forest to keep out unwanted industrial development and enhance community resource management.

Manitoba has now passed a regulation granting permanent protection to approximately two million acres under Poplar River First Nation’s “Asatiwisipe Aki Management Plan” that will manage for wilderness values -- protecting vital populations of woodland caribou, wolves and millions of migratory songbirds -- while ensuring that the First Nations can manage these dense woods for sustainable community development.

The government’s move is a big step towards the ultimate goal of creating a World Heritage Site that would protect more than 10 million acres of Manitoba’s globally important Boreal Forest and stave off its industrialization and destruction.

“It is an important day when commitments to conservation become actual, legal permanent protection as has now happened for the Poplar River First Nation traditional lands,” said Susan Casey-Lefkowitz NRDC International Program Director. “Manitoba and other First Nations remain committed to the broader goal of a World Heritage Site that would eventually protect more than 10 million acres of Boreal Forest.”

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