Canada Parks Day takes place each year on the third Saturday in July. This country has dedicated more land to parks than any other country in the world. On June 9, 2009, Environment Minister Jim Prentice and DehCho First Nations Grand Chief Gerald Antoine announced the final boundaries for the greatly expanded Nahanni National Park Reserve in the Northwest Territories. The world famous park reserve is now nearly seven times the size of the original one established in 1972. It will permanently protect over 30,000 km of Boreal wilderness - an area the size of Vancouver Island.
"The Nahanni is the jewel of Canada’s Boreal forest, and one of the world’s greatest wilderness treasures. Canada has shown true global leadership by protecting it," says CPAWS National Executive Director Eric Hébert-Daly. "With this announcement the federal government has created a national park that can take its place alongside Banff and Jasper as one of the world’s great protected areas," says Harvey Locke, CPAWS Senior Advisor for Conservation. The announcement of final boundaries comes nearly two years after Prime Minister Harper and former Environment Minister John Baird promised a massive expansion of the park, crowning years of collective work by CPAWS, local First Nations and many others to convince the federal government to permanently protect this iconic wilderness area.
"The elders of Nahanni Butte and the leaders of the Dehcho First Nations were determined to see this through," says Lani Cook, Executive Director of CPAWS NWT Chapter. "For the past nine years, we have been honoured to work closely with them to get protection for the Nahanni."
The announcement is great news, but in the last year, the government's efforts to expand national parks has slowed considerably. More protection is needed for many ecologically important landscapes and ocean areas.
Canada's nature reserves include 10% of its land but only 1% of its oceans and fresh water. However, Canada's huge land mass makes it the leader in nature reserves. Major conservation efforts have taken place in some provinces. At long last, Manitoba has banned logging in 79 parks after years of campaigning by conservation advocates.
Though the protection of our natural reserves is slow in coming, (we need many more natural resources protected) Canada Parks Day is a great day to celebrate the beautiful national and provincial parks within our boundaries.
Enjoy your weekend and take time to enjoy the natural resources that are available to you.