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A mighty force for nature

Over the past seven years, I’ve been proud to lead a great group of conservationists who are passionate, dedicated and work hard to protect ecosystems on land and in oceans across Canada. 2016 has only reinforced this pride for me – and it should be a source of pride for our donors and supporters too.

Whether it’s fighting off development threats in our national parks (Mother Canada in Cape Breton, encroaching development plans in our mountain parks, or cuts to science monitoring and capacity at Parks Canada), working to protect the endangered icons of Canada like the caribou or the belugas, campaigning for new protected areas and parks from the South Okanagan to the East Arm of Great Slave Lake to the oceans off the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador, our team is working hard across Canada.

Here are just some of this year’s accomplishments:

• In the Yukon, the Peel watershed conservation plan won the day in the courts along with our indigenous partners. We are now working together to win the next and final step on the journey – at the Supreme Court of Canada in March 2017.

• In the Northwest Territories, the East Arm of Great Slave Lake moved closer to protection through Thaidene Nene, a combination of a territorial and national park championed by the local Dene and CPAWS. Your letters and participation in public events during the consultations process was essential in moving this forward.

• In Nunavut, we welcomed the work of our partner Inuit and conservation groups in making room for a much bigger marine protected area in Lancaster Sound.

• The Hecate Strait, home of the prehistoric Glass Sponge Reefs off the BC coast, were nominated as a Hope Spot by Mission Blue, and we’ve worked to improve the regulations to try and stop reef-choking bottom-trawling next to them.

• Our Southern Alberta chapter won a prestigious award for excellence for their environmental education program from the Canadian Network for Environmental Education and Communication.

• Our Northern Alberta chapter’s Executive Director was invited to join the Alberta government’s Oil Sands Advisory Group to help shape discussions around biodiversity and conservation issues.

• In Saskatchewan, we worked hard and succeeded in coming up with a collaborative plan with forestry companies to set aside over 220,000 hectares of the Pasquia Porcupine Forest.

• CPAWS Manitoba was recognized with the 2016 Conservation Award from the Wildlife Society in Manitoba.

• The Rouge National Urban Park legislation saw proposed amendments recommended by CPAWS to make sure that conservation of nature is the first management priority of Canada’s first National Urban Park, and provincial lands were added to this surprisingly well preserved wilderness on the east side of Toronto. The Prime Minister even appeared for our Paddle the Rouge event during that announcement.

• The Dumoine protected area in Western Quebec was expanded from 1445 sq. km to over 1800 sq. km and was connected to another protected area called Wanaki, creating 2200 sq. km of contiguous conservation. An additional 1000 sq. km has also been secured between the Noire and Coulonge watersheds creating a total of over 3000 sq. km in the region.

• Our first annual Thanks to Nature event took place in several parks throughout Quebec during the Thanksgiving weekend. It was a great collaboration between our Quebec chapter and the Quebec parks agency to connect thousands of people to nature and understand the benefits that nature provides us all.

• Mount Carleton Provincial Park in New Brunswick has a new proposal to develop a snowmobile trail right up the mountain itself. Our chapter has been rallying New Brunswickers and working to prevent the proposed development in the most sensitive part of the park.

• We successfully fought off the building of “Mother Canada”, the multi-storey statue in Cape Breton Highlands National Park in Nova Scotia, and participated as part of a broader group on holding off development within Birch Cove Lakes.

• After years of work to protect Newfoundland’s Gros Morne National Park from industrial development and fracking just outside its borders, CPAWS was pleased to hear the UNESCO World Heritage Committee reiterate its desire for a buffer zone around the park. The suggestion of a buffer zone was also echoed in the government’s panel on fracking earlier this year.

We’ve issued nationwide reports on marine protected areas and the poor progress Canada is making in comparison to the US and Mexico, reported on the recovery of the Boreal Woodland Caribou and the next urgent steps that need to be taken, and released a widely-covered report (over 100 media stories) on the problems faced by our National Parks from a conservation perspective.

There is so much more that we do from day to day, but with a small group of dedicated staff, some incredible volunteers, over 100,000 supporters nationwide who take action when we call upon them and donors who contribute to making it all possible – we are making a big difference despite our small size.

People like you make our success possible by joining our list  of online activists and supporters and by making a one-time or monthly donation. We can’t do what we do without you.