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A look back at 2014

2014 kept us busy protecting more of Canada’s amazing wilderness. But I’ll be honest, until a couple of months ago, we were feeling somewhat discouraged. 

We found ourselves fighting off development threats in Jasper, taking the Yukon government to court over the Peel Watershed, experiencing little progress on caribou conservation, and facing down a proposed petroleum port in sensitive beluga habitat in the St. Lawrence Estuary. Taking on fights, in court and out, is not the kind of approach that comes naturally to CPAWS. We are, after all, a reasonable, science-based, solutions-oriented organization.

But sometimes you have to fight to protect the gains you make.

The good news is that by year end we had succeeded in a number of these challenges. The hotel proposal at Jasper’s Maligne Lake was rejected, although we continue to fight against the approval of outlying commercial accommodations there. The Yukon Supreme Court ruled in our favour in the Yukon’s Peel Watershed. The building of the marine port in beluga habitat was scuttled. Our defensive approach made a difference in 2014.

Here’s more on the progress we made across Canada in 2014:

  • In British Columbia, working with local communities of the South Okanagan – Similkameen toward the goal of protecting BC’s endangered grasslands, we gained significant support from local businesses, regional governments, the Union of BC Municipalities, and the BC Finance Committee for the creation of a national park.
  • The Yukon court victory means that we are closer than ever to permanent protection of the Peel Watershed – up to 80% conservation in that region is now mandated.
  • CPAWS- Southern Alberta launched a new education program called Discover Parks!, designed for students to learn about Alberta parks from a user and conservation perspective, all the while inspiring future park ambassadors.
  • In Northwest Territories, momentum continued to build for the creation of a massive new protected area on the East Arm of Great Slave Lake – Thaidene Nene, and Nááts ́ihch ́oh National Park Reserve was officially created by act of Parliament on December 16th, adding almost 5,000 square kms to the headwaters region of the Nahanni National Park Reserve. Unfortunately, the new park excludes critical habitat for mountain woodland caribou, and some of the headwater streams that feed the Nahanni making it vulnerable to impacts just outside the park.
  • In Saskatchewan, we moved closer to gaining new conservation plans for Boreal caribou habitat, working with the provincial government and forestry companies..
  • In Manitoba, we celebrated new protected areas, including the Chitek Lake Provincial Park – which is over 100,000 hectares of intact forest.
  • In the Ottawa Valley, CPAWS worked with the Royal Ontario Museum and other road ecology partners to host a highly successful conference on lowering the impact of roads on wildlife. This will help to strengthen efforts to protect Gatineau Park in the future. 
  • In Québec, we welcomed reaffirmation of the province’s commitment to the 50% conservation target for northern Québec, which is now enshrined in legislation.
  • In New Brunswick, we finally succeeded in putting nature conservation into legislation for our provincial parks.
  • In Nova Scotia, a suite of new protected areas were formalized as part of our long-standing work to get the province to implement its 14% conservation plan – including a magnificent forest at Masons Mountain in Cape Breton.
  • In Newfoundland, we welcomed the UNESCO buffer zone recommendation for Gros Morne,  and we also worked with the province and the forest industry to conserve nearly 4 million hectares of Newfoundland's large intact landscapes. This represents nearly 35% of the island and 75% of the most important caribou habitat.

CPAWS released three major reports in the past year–on how Canada is treating parks, caribou and oceans. Each of these reports continues to put pressure on decision-makers to take action and is making a difference.

We’re Canada’s only national charity focused solely on conservation of public lands and waters. As such, we stand up every day for our parks and protected areas – those that exist now, and those that are yet to be established.

The successes we achieve are the product of the incredible support and investment we receive from activists and donors from across Canada. People like YOU.

Although it’s been said, many times, many ways… we couldn’t have done it without you.

In 2014, CPAWS was one of only two environmental charities to achieve the four-star rating by Charity Intelligence for financial transparency, efficiency and accountability to our donors.

Thank you for placing your trust in our work. As you can see, it’s making a big difference for our wilderness, our wildlife and our own survival as a species.

Here’s to an equally successful 2015!