CPAWS welcomes new provincial government promise to prioritize protected areas

St. John’s – The Newfoundland and Labrador Chapter of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS-NL) welcomes the announcement by the provincial government that it intends on prioritizing the completion of the “Natural Areas System Plan”.

This direction from the Premier’s office is contained within the Ministerial Mandate Letter to Honourable Perry Trimper, Minister of Environment and Conservation, released publicly yesterday.

More specifically, the letter to the Minister states,

“Advancing protected areas planning is central to environmental and cultural conservation, as well as to sustainable development. A well-governed and scientifically-based system for designating protected areas has the potential to benefit not only our environment, but our economy, through ecotourism and research endeavors. You are expected to finalize and publicly release a Natural Areas System Plan in collaboration with your colleagues.”

“Newfoundland and Labrador contains some of the most stunning natural landscapes on the planet”, says Tanya Edwards, CPAWS-NL’s Co-Executive Director. “It’s important that we collectively take the necessary steps to ensure that these places are conserved for future generations”.

The Natural Areas System Plan was developed by the Newfoundland and Labrador government long ago, way back in the 1990’s, but has never been finalized or released publicly.  This has resulted in the province having one of the lowest percentages of protected land in Canada.

Until the recent establishment of Mealy Mountains National Park Reserve in Labrador, only 4.6% of the province could be considered to be legally-protected.  With the new national park, the current level of protection is 7.2% of the provincial landmass.

“The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society looks forward to the successful implementation of the Natural Areas System Plan,” says Chris Miller, CPAWS’ National Conservation Biologist. “The time has come to publicly release the plan and ensure that these remarkably significant natural areas are protected once-and-for-all.”

The letter also mandates the Minister of Environment and Conservation to oversee the protection and management of the province’s wildlife and parks, noting their vital importance in preserving Newfoundland and Labrador as an attractive place for residents and visitors.  CPAWS-NL looks forward to working with the Minister on initiatives to deliver on this responsibility, including the proposed protective buffer zone around Gros Morne National Park, which is critical to sustaining and growing the province’s billion dollar tourism economy.

The full version of the Ministerial Mandate Letter to the Minister of Environment and Conservation can be found here.

CPAWS-NL looks forward to working collaboratively with the Newfoundland and Labrador government as it takes the necessary steps to finalize the Natural Areas System Plan, and to collaborate with the federal government and local communities to create a buffer zone around Gros Morne.  We are a grassroots conservation organization that works constructively with government, industry, and local communities to ensure ecologically significant natural areas are conserved for future generations.