CPAWS and western Newfoundlanders urge province to move on Gros Morne buffer zone

March 25, 2015


St. John’s – Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) representatives from St John’s and Ottawa and local citizens from Gros Morne communities are meeting today in St John’s with 11 members of the Newfoundland and Labrador House of Assembly, representing all parties, to urge them to initiate work on a buffer zone around Gros Morne National Park.

The delegation is calling on the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador to commit to implementing UNESCO’s recommendation for a buffer zone, and to work with the federal government to initiate a collaborative and transparent process that includes local communities, businesses, NGOs and experts to help define what the buffer zone should look like.

The meetings will be followed tonight by a free CPAWS public event celebrating Gros Morne at Erin’s Pub, 186 Water Street, starting at 7 PM, with MC Greg Malone and local musician Mark Manning.  A lucky audience member will win the grand door prize of a guided kayaking trip for two, courtesy of Gros Morne Adventures and an overnight stay at the Bonne Bay Inn.

“CPAWS has been working with concerned local community members from the Gros Morne area for the past two years to stop the threat of petroleum development adjacent to the park.  Now that there’s a provincial moratorium on fracking, and a proposal to drill and frack for oil metres from the park boundary in Sally’s Cove has been stopped, the time is ripe to get permanent measures in place to protect the park’s outstanding beauty and ecological values,” says CPAWS Newfoundland and Labrador representative Suzanne Dooley.

“A buffer zone around Gros Morne that prevents future proposals for extractive activities like petroleum and mining exploration and development near the park is critical to protect the natural beauty and ecosystems of the park in the long term, and also to safeguard Newfoundland and Labrador’s billion dollar tourism economy.” says CPAWS National Executive Director Eric Hebert-Daly, part of today’s delegation in St John’s.

Last year the UNESCO World Heritage Committee expressed concern about the possibility of petroleum development near Gros Morne and recommended that a buffer zone be created around the park.  It is now standard practice for World Heritage Sites to be created with a buffer zone -- an area of land or sea around the designated area that is specially managed to prevent harm from damaging adjacent activities.  For example, when Red Bay, Labrador was designated as a cultural World Heritage Site in 2013, the provincial and local governments collaborated to create a buffer zone around the site.

“Since the park was created four decades ago, local communities have built a thriving tourism economy in the Gros Morne region based on the park’s remarkable natural beauty and wildlife. A buffer zone is important to ensure the future of our communities and the magnificent land and seascape that sustains us all,” says Anne Marceau of Rocky Harbour.

The call for a buffer zone is supported by many groups and individuals beyond CPAWS, including Hospitality Newfoundland and Labrador, over 30 business owners from the Gros Morne area, 32 prominent Canadians and3,500 individuals who have written letters and signed petitions within the past two years.


For interviews, contact:

Suzanne Dooley (709) 682-9194
Tanya Edwards (709) 727-7789