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CPAWS welcomes Canada’s signing of wilderness protection agreement with US, Mexico


CPAWS welcomes the announcement today by the Honourable Jim Prentice, Minister of the Environment, of a historic memorandum of understanding between the countries of North America to work together to create a “well-connected continent-wide network of protected areas”.

“Making a commitment to create  networks of protected wilderness areas is a significant step in safeguarding Canada’s and North America’s ecosystems, and we welcome it wholeheartedly,” says CPAWS National Executive Director Eric Hebert-Daly, who is returning from the Merida, Mexico “Wild 9” Congress where the minister made his announcement.

Canada  and most other developed countries have until now focused on developing a “representative system” of national parks to protect remnants of existing natural ecosystems – called by some, the “polka dot” approach. In the past decade, conservation biology research has convincingly made the case that in order to keep ecosystems healthy, we need to create large interconnected networks of protected areas that allow wild species to roam, especially in the face of a changing climate.

According the Globe and Mail, Minister Prentice stated that “ The goals include enhancing wilderness, both on land and at sea. Built into the arrangement is a regime that mandates the monitoring of existing protected areas to make sure they remain healthy. Mr. Prentice described that preservation aspect as the No. 1 priority of each country. There are also provisions that each country will work more smoothly to deal with the impact of climate change on protected areas.”

CPAWS is a co-founder with Mountain Equipment Co-op of thebigwild.org,  with the vision of protecting at least half of Canada’s public land and water.  “Announcements like the one by Minister Prentice today affirm that Canada can make the Big Wild vision a reality within our lifetime,” says Hebert-Daly.

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