On March 7th the Governments of Canada and Manitoba announced that ecologically important lands on Canadian Forces Base Shilo in south-central Manitoba will be formally recognized as a conservation area.
The 211 sq km area, which is being recognized as an “other effective conservation area” or OECM according to criteria set by the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity, can now be counted as contributing to Canada’s target of protecting at least 17% of land and inland waters by 2020.
“This area of CFB Shilo includes a rare mixed-grass prairie ecosystem and is home to 17 species-at-risk,” said Ron Thiessen, Executive Director of CPAWS Manitoba Chapter. “This designation recognizes that the Canadian Forces manage the area in ways that support these grassland ecosystems and wildlife, including through ecological monitoring programs that track their on-going health.”
According to the Convention on Biological Diversity, other effective conservation measures (OECMs) are similar to protected areas. The main difference between a protected area and OECM is the primary purpose of the area. Protected areas must have conservation as their primary or overriding objective, while OECMs may have other primary goals, but also must have long term measures in place that effectively conserve biodiversity “in situ”, meaning in its natural setting. In this case, CFB Shilo is primarily managed for military training purposes, which has meant the prairie has not been converted to agricultural or other industrial or development purposes. The newly designated OECM area is managed in ways that maintain its important natural values.
“One of the key criteria for recognizing an OECM is that the area must be conserved for the long term,” noted Thiessen. “With CFB Shilo now recognized as an OECM, we’re hopeful long-term measures will be put in place to safeguard this rare wildlife haven,” notes Thiessen.
For more information:
Executive Director, CPAWS Manitoba