Government of Canada supports the expansion of Kitaskino Nuwenëné Wildland Park and boosts conservation efforts
February 2, 2022 – Gatineau, Quebec
Expanding conserved and protected areas around the world is one of the most important actions countries can take to curb the ongoing loss of nature and biodiversity, and mitigate the worst effects of climate change.
Today, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, the Honourable Steven Guilbeault, and Chief Peter Powder of the Mikisew Cree First Nation announced a large expansion of the Kitaskino Nuwenëné Wildland Park in Northern Alberta. Through $5.3 million in funding under the Canada Nature Fund, the Mikisew Cree First Nation and the Government of Alberta have expanded the park’s existing western border. This collaboration expands the park by 1,438 km2 and significantly adds to the largest connected area of protected boreal forest in the world.
The newly protected area will expand protected habitat for species at risk, including the threatened Ronald Lake wood bison herd and boreal caribou, as well as the endangered whooping crane. The expanded portion of the park also fulfills an objective of the Mikisew Cree First Nation’s land use plan to conserve an ecologically and culturally important watershed.
By working closely with Indigenous leaders in conservation and provincial and territorial partners, the Government of Canada is making progress toward its conservation targets. The expansion of Kitaskino Nuwenëné Wildland Park marks another important milestone in the government’s goal of conserving 25% of land and oceans in Canada by 2025, and working toward 30% of each by 2030.
Today is also World Wetlands Day, a day that annually recognizes the critical importance of wetlands for the health and wellbeing of many species, including humans. Moreover, World Wetlands Day reminds us of the vital role of conservation and nature-based climate solutions to address climate change in Canada and around the world. Kitaskino Nuwenëné Wildland Provincial Park increases the protection of waters flowing into the Peace-Athabasca Delta, a globally recognized wetland and one of the largest freshwater deltas in the world.
“This project, which expands the largest connected area of protected boreal forest in the world, would not be possible without the leadership of Mikisew Cree First Nation and the collaborative efforts between governments. Together, we are making a difference for species at risk, combatting climate change and helping to increase the amount of land that is protected and conserved so we can all enjoy a healthier environment.”
– The Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Environment and Climate Change
“It is great to see this expansion of Kitaskino Nuwenëné Wildland Park become a reality. Expanding this protected area is part of our vision for protecting the Peace-Athabasca Delta, North America’s largest inland river delta, and important resources like woodland caribou and wood bison. We respectfully acknowledge our elders for the wisdom they shared in helping us identify these watersheds for protection and are proud that future generations will benefit from their foresight. The Canada Nature Fund helped us chart the collaborative strategy that allowed us to achieve this significant outcome with the support of our neighbouring nations, the provincial and federal governments and many partners in industry. We’ve proven that we can achieve great things when so many partners work together.”
– Chief Peter Powder, Mikisew Cree First Nation
“The expansion of Kitaskino Nuwenëné Wildland Provincial Park is a major achievement in conservation. Through this collaborative effort, vital wetlands and boreal forest habitat in Northern Alberta are now protected for future generations.”
– The Honourable Randy Boissonnault, Minister of Tourism and Member of Parliament for Edmonton Centre
In 2019, the Mikisew Cree First Nation received $2.1 million and the Government of Alberta received $1.7 million in Quick Start funding to establish the Kitaskino Nuwenëné Wildland Park.
The Canada Nature Fund is a key part of the historic Nature Legacy investment of $1.3 billion in 2018, which was enhanced in 2021 with another $2.3 billion over five years.
Nature-based solutions and maintaining natural infrastructure are ways to protect biodiversity and provide wildlife habitat protection, promote climate resilience and provide leisure and economic opportunities for local communities.
One third of the world’s remaining boreal forests are in Canada.
On February 2, 1971, the Convention on Wetlands was adopted as an international treaty. Each year, World Wetlands Day is celebrated on February 2nd to mark the anniversary and raise awareness about these important ecological systems.
The expansion of Kitaskino Nuwenëné Wildland Park further contributes to protected areas around Wood Buffalo National Park World Heritage Site. Together with Wood Buffalo National Park, these areas improve landscape connectivity for species and ecosystems, support ecological integrity of the region, and will continue to provide improved protection for lands and species on which Indigenous Peoples depend.
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