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CPAWS Rocks the World Parks Congress!

On Friday night CPAWS co-hosted a hugely successful ”Nature Needs Half” event with two international organizations -- the WILD Foundation and the Zoological Society of London (ZSL). Word on the street is that it was the fun event of the Congress so far!  Hundreds of people showed up, and Canadian hip hop artist Baba Brinkman pumped up the crowd with songs from his “Rap Guide to Wilderness”.

Harvey Locke presenting at the CPAWS Side Event.

Our goal for the event was to build momentum for the big idea that Nature Needs HalfTM and for our work in Canada to protect half of our lands and waters.

In 2005, CPAWS was the first national organization in the world to formally adopt the goal that at least half of our lands and waters should be permanently protected to ensure a long term future for nature and people. Since then, The WILD Foundation has built a global Nature Needs HalfTM. Recently, ZSL – a renowned international conservation organization – has joined the movement with their “Space for Nature” program.

Steven Nitah from the Lutsel K’e Dene First Nation

Canada was front and centre Friday night. Harvey Locke, former CPAWS president and recipient of our J.B. Harkin conservation medal, spoke about the global Nature Needs HalfTM campaign. ZSL Conservation Director Jonathan Bailey (also a Canadian) announced the results of their global public survey which found that people around the world want 50% of land and oceans protected. Mat Jacobsen from the International Boreal Conservation Campaign shared the Quebec government’s commitment to protect half of the northern part of the province from any industrial development in order to conserve biodiversity – 600,000 sq kms! And I shared the news that Newfoundland and Labrador is deferring 35% of the island of Newfoundland from industrial logging, a commitment that the Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement helped to secure.

Deputy Grand Chief Rodney Mark of the Grand Council of the Crees 

Steven Nitah from the Lutsel K’e Dene First Nation spoke about their work with partners, including CPAWS, to protect Thaidene Nene – The Land of the Ancestors. Deputy Grand Chief Rodney Mark of the Grand Council of the Crees spoke about the large-scale conservation planning they are doing for their territory east of James Bay. And an elder from Vancouver Island spontaneously took the stage to share his wisdom about the importance of protecting our shared earth.

The evening closed with dancing to more of Baba Brinkman’s amazing wilderness rap.

We have a long way to go in Canada to achieve our goal of protecting half of Canada’s public land and water.  But through innovative strong partnerships we’re making progress. On Friday night, it felt good to be a Canadian at the World Parks Congress!