PROVINCE COMMITS TO NEW BOREAL PEATLANDS STEWARDSHIP STRATEGY: SELINGER

Posted on December 9th, 2009

Source: Manitoba Government

Kaskatamagan and Kaskatamagan Sipi Wildlife Management Areas (WMA) Added to Protected Areas

On the eve of the Copenhagen climate-change summit, Manitoba is
announcing two new protected areas with significant carbon stores
and committing to a new boreal peatlands stewardship strategy,
Premier Greg Selinger announced today.

“We are adding almost 400,000 hectares in the boreal tundra
transition area to our protected land base,” Selinger said.
“Kaskatamagan Wildlife Management Area is 259,530 hectares and
is home to the western Hudson Bay sub-population of polar bears
from July to November and caribou in the summer.  The
Kaskatamagan Sipi WMA protects 133,820 hectares of wilderness in
the boreal Arctic tundra transition zone and is recognized as a
globally significant bird area.”

For a couple of weeks each year, beluga whales, polar bears and
caribou can all be found along the coast at the same time, making
it a unique destination for ecotourism activities such as viewing
wildlife, said Selinger.

It has been estimated these two protected areas alone store
approximately 179 million tonnes of carbon in their peatlands and
soil, Selinger said.  This is equivalent to 656 million tonnes of
carbon dioxide, the same as the emissions from the entire
province of Manitoba for 30 years.

Boreal areas store more carbon than any other ecosystem and are
gaining increasing attention from the scientific community for
the significant amount of carbon stored, particularly below the
surface, Selinger said.  It is estimated that Manitoba’s boreal
forest stores as much as 30 billion tonnes of carbon.

“We believe strongly in the role forests play in our fight
against climate change and will continue to advocate nationally
and internationally to ensure boreal forests are an important
part of any climate change strategy,” Selinger said.  “Manitoba
will be a leader in the preservation of boreal peatlands with a
new stewardship strategy that will be developed in co-operation
with stakeholders and leading climate-change non-governmental
agencies.”

Manitoba will pilot management practices to assess the carbon
value of boreal forests, wetlands and peatlands, Selinger said.

Since 1999, Manitoba has permanently protected 1.26 million
hectares of land in parks, wildlife management areas, ecological
reserves and provincial forests, and by memorandum of agreement
with conservation agencies, Selinger said.  The province has also
banned logging in 80 of the province’s 81 parks.

Logging, mining, hydroelectric power development, oil and gas
exploration or development, and any other activities that could
significantly and adversely affect natural habitat are banned in
the new protected areas, the premier said.

“Aboriginal and treaty nights will be respected in these new
protected areas, which include accessing protected areas for
hunting, trapping, fishing and other traditional pursuits,” said
Selinger.

The newly protected areas will help the province meet its
commitments under the Green and Growing strategy.  Both areas
fall within the boreal forest and will also contribute to
Manitoba’s climate-change and wetland protection commitments.

These initiatives build on other recent protected areas
announcements where the province:

–  designated Whitemouth Bog Ecological Reserve,
Whitemouth Bog WMA and Observation Point WMA adding 14,040
hectares to Manitoba’s protected areas network;
–   invested $7 million in support for the Nature
Conservancy of Canada (NCC) to acquire and preserve lands over
the next five years in eight areas in southern Manitoba;
–  expanded Manitoba’s protected area network by adding
more than 2,200 hectares of privately owned NCC land under an
updated memorandum of agreement with the province;
–  expanded the Pembina Valley WMA by adding 129 hectares
of private land, purchased in partnership with NCC; and

–  expanded the Pinawa Dam Provincial Park by 168
hectares.

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