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Conservation Gets a Boost from Federal Government

In last week’s Throne Speech, the Federal Government announced an ambitious plan to ‘create significant new protected areas’. A National Conservation Plan, a park in the Rouge River Valley, marine and northern conservation were all mentioned in this important speech that sets out the government’s agenda for the next session of Parliament.

In today’s federal budget, despite a general approach to cutting back federal spending, the government did commit to some partial funding of the creation of the Mealy Mountains National Park. It is important that we understand a key thing about conservation: it is a relatively inexpensive way to improve our environment and to help connect Canadians to our natural heritage. There is significantly more to do, but in the coming years, we look forward to seeing a broad vision that comes out of a National Conservation Plan.

What I’d love to see in such a plan is multi-level involvement (all government levels and indigenous communities) in connecting our wilderness areas so that they allow wildlife to roam unimpeded by human disturbance. With global climate change, north-south corridors are more important than ever. We also need to see new large landscapes protected that help us build towards our goal of protecting at least 50% of Canada’s wilderness. There needs to be sustainable and thoughtful development on the rest of the landscape, particularly in areas that are adjacent to the protected areas. And as you may have seen in today’s Globe and Mail, we also need to do something about our marine ecosystems that are largely unprotected, despite having the world’s longest coastline.

A few steps taken, a much longer journey to travel. I look forward to working with Federal MPs from all parties to help build that vision.