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CPAWS takes the stage at the 2017 Canadian Parks Conference in Banff National Park

Often times, you may not realize the work that goes on behind the scenes at CPAWS. This week, a number of CPAWS staff are at the 2017 Canadian Parks Conference in Banff National Park, co-hosting a workshop with senior decision-makers on how to achieve the international protected area targets, giving presentations, and fostering relationships with government officials, Indigenous leaders, and other key people and organizations involved in conservation.

Why do we do this? It’s to ensure decision-makers think big, and stay focused on what nature needs to thrive in the long term in all of their thinking. It’s to highlight that Canadians support the protection of much more of our land and ocean, and to highlight opportunities to scale up protection in Canada.  We’re pushing Canada to achieve its commitments under the Convention on Biological Diversity to protect at least 17 per cent of land and 10 per cent of oceans by 2020, while at the same time urging them to craft a plan for beyond 2020 that will result in the much larger scale protection nature needs to thrive in the long term. CPAWS has set a science-based goal of protecting at least half of Canada’s public land, freshwater, and ocean. 

With 90 per cent of our nation’s land and all of our ocean and freshwater estate managed by federal, provincial, territorial, and Indigenous governments on behalf of their constituents, government action is fundamental to conserving nature in Canada. Currently, Canada lags the world with only 10.6 per cent of lands and about one per cent of our ocean estate protected. A new “Pathway to Target One” process has just been started that will bring together provincial, territorial, federal, and Indigenous governments to create a roadmap to achieve the 2020 targets.  Many senior government officials working on this new initiative will be at our workshop this week, hearing from scientists, Indigenous leaders, and NGOs about what success looks like.

As plans are made to protect more of Canada’s wilderness, we need to make sure they include the areas that are most important for biodiversity, as well as areas Indigenous peoples have identified for protection.  We need to ensure climate change is taken into account, and protection measures are not watered down by governments to make it easier to reach the target.

CPAWS is Canada’s public voice for wilderness, committed to protecting at least half of our nation’s public lands and waters, and ensuring existing protected areas are managed to conserve nature first. This is why we’re at the 2017 Canadian Parks.  It’s why we work with government officials and key stakeholders, why we rally the public to express support for progress and concern when problems arise which threaten ecological integrity of our parks. Much of our work goes on behind the scenes to encourage government action to protect nature, and, in doing so, to enhance our own well-being.