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Six months in, we’ve already achieved so much together for Canada’s lands and waters


As we progress into summer, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on the successes achieved in the first half of 2017. With our federal government’s commitment to protecting at least 17 per cent of our land and 10 per cent of our ocean by 2020 under the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity, we have been busier than ever! Staff across Canada have been working with all levels of government to enhance the protection of our iconic lands and I invite you to explore our milestones below.

We’re fighting to keep oil and gas activity out of Laurentian Channel
Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) recommended regulations allowing oil and gas activities to continue in Laurentian Channel Marine Protected Area (MPA). We’re rallying support to enhance protection of this ecological gem so it does not suffer irreparable harm if oil and gas activities are allowed within its boundaries.

Changes to the Oceans Act a step in the right direction
We welcomed the proposed changes to the Oceans Act and the Canada Petroleum Resources Act tabled in the House of Commons, including providing interim protection to sites identified as potential marine protected areas.

Lake Winnipegosis islands are Canada’s newest provincial parks
In mid-June, the Manitoba government announced the creation of two new provincial parks. Goose and Grand Islands provincial parks are made up of eight islands on Lake Winnipegosis, which were nominated for protection in 2001 by local First Nations based on cultural and wildlife values. CPAWS worked with indigenous communities, the Manitoba government, the Wilderness Committee, and Manitoba citizens to achieve enhanced protection of these spectacular islands.

Quebec creates municipal fund to help communities fight biodiversity loss
CPAWS Quebec and the Fondation de la faune du Quebec launched a municipal fund to provide municipalities in Quebec permanent tools to help combat biodiversity loss in their region.

Ministerial Advisory Panel on achieving Canada’s international commitment to protect biodiversity
We welcomed the announcement of a National Advisory Panel to provide recommendations to governments on how Canada can achieve our commitment to protect at least 17 per cent of our landscape by 2020. We are particularly pleased to see a strong focus on indigenous perspectives embedded throughout this process to protect more land, and to have four of the 12 panelists involved directly with CPAWS.

Potential new large Marine Protected Area near Vancouver Island
On May 24, we cautiously welcomed the announcement of a potential new large Marine Protected Area (MPA) off the west coast of Vancouver Island. DFO revealed an area of interest for a new marine protected area that covers 140,000 km2, making it the largest ever proposed marine protected area on BC’s coast.

St. Anns Bank Marine Protected Area achieves important milestone
The federal government has completed the designation for St. Anns Bank Marine Protected Area, an area 4,364 kilometres in size located off the eastern coast of Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia. This area is vital for conservation, hosting over 100 species, including leatherback sea turtles, and comprising of an important migratory corridor for wildlife. Read more.

Inaugural Glen Davis prize awarded
On May 18, we had the honour of awarding Anne Sherrod, 70, of New Denver, BC, the inaugural $10,000 Glen Davis Conservation Leadership Prize, in partnership with WWF-Canada. Sherrod spent decades protecting the natural riches of the province, establishing habitat protections amid personal financial sacrifice.

Rouge National Urban Park gets the protection it deserves
After five years of work to ensure Rouge National Urban Park near Toronto has the level of protection needed, CPAWS and Nature Canada celebrate a major achievement: Bill C-18 received Royal Assent from the Governor General. The law means ecological integrity will be the first priority in management of the park. It meets a key request from leading conservation groups in Canada that the federal government prioritize nature conservation in law for the park.

CPAWS takes federal Minister to court over boreal habitat protection
We filed a lawsuit against the Minister of the Environment and Climate Change in April. One requirement of the federal Species at Risk Act is that once critical habitat for a species has been identified, Canada’s Minister of Environment and Climate Change has 180 days to identify whether and where any portion of that habitat remains unprotected in Canada. At that point, and every six months until protection is achieved, the Minister must report on the steps being taken to protect that critical habitat. Boreal woodland caribou’s critical habitat was identified and publicly posted in October of 2012. Much of the Boreal caribou critical habitat remains unprotected more than four years later, with no reports describing what is being done to address any protection gaps.

The Peel Watershed sees its day in court
On March 22, the Supreme Court of Canada heard a landmark case about First Nations rights in the Yukon as the Peel Watershed, 68,000 square kilometers of northern wilderness larger than the province of Nova Scotia, had its day in court.

New MPA for Canada’s ancient and unique glass sponge reefs
We worked for over 16 years to establish an MPA for Canada’s ancient and unique glass sponge reefs. The reefs are an international treasure, globally unique, and deserving of strong protection as to remain a source of awe and wonder for generations to come.

Historic return of bison to Banff National Park
In February, we celebrated Parks Canada’s five-year pilot project which has seen a total of 16 bison, 12 pregnant cows and 4 bulls, re-introduced into the wilderness of Banff National Park’s eastern slopes.

United Nations report concludes Canada is failing to protect Wood Buffalo National Park
The United Nations released a report strongly criticizing Canada for its lack of protection of Wood Buffalo National Park, risking the embarrassment of having the park join UNESCO’s List of World Heritage in Danger. Canada has been given one more opportunity under the World Heritage Convention to draft a response and plan as quickly as possible to address the report’s recommendations for enhanced protection of Wood Buffalo National Park.

Castle Wildland and Provincial Parks receive formal designation
CPAWS celebrated the formal designation of the Castle Wildland and Provincial Parks, alongside the Yellowstone to Yukon (Y2Y) Conservation Initiative. Located in southwestern Alberta at the Crown of the Continent ecosystem, both CPAWS and Y2Y applauded the decision to phase out off highway vehicle use in this region and expand protection for the area’s headwaters.

Biggest public consultation on the future of Canada’s national parks in a generation
CPAWS welcomed the launch of the biggest nationwide public consultation on the future of our national parks and national marine conservation areas in a generation. From January 9th to 27th, Canadians were invited to provide feedback and written recommendations to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change on how Parks Canada is delivering on its mandate, and to help shape the future of our national parks, national marine conservation areas and other sites managed by Parks Canada.