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A proposal to create a U.N. World Heritage site could save the wild heart of Canada’s boreal forest.

Vast stretches of Canada’s boreal forest are undisturbed by development, providing refuge on a grand scale for caribou, gray wolves and millions of songbirds that nest in the dense woods. But the wildest stretch of this great forest — its very heart — is under threat from transmission lines, industrial access roads, mining and large-scale logging.

In response to these dangers, BioGems Defenders have joined other environmental activists and indigenous communities in an urgent campaign to save the Heart of the Boreal Forest. Staving off industrial development may hinge on an ambitious proposal that would create a United Nations World Heritage Site within this vital area. Encompassing 10.6 million acres in Manitoba and Ontario, the U.N. site would include two provincial parks in addition to the traditional territories of involved First Nations. As an important step toward conservation, the Manitoba government has rejected a proposal to run a hydropower transmission line through this region and has passed legislation that gives local First Nations more control over land use planning. But until the area is protected in accordance with the plans of the First Nations so that the World Heritage Site can be established, development remains a grave threat. In fact, powerful interests in Manitoba are once again pressuring the province to approve a hydropower transmission line through the boreal forest. This would seriously jeopardize the World Heritage Site nomination.

Tell the Manitoba government that you support its efforts to protect the pristine boreal forest from the proposed transmission line and to preserve these lands as a World Heritage Site.