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Sierra Club BC supports the ban on the trophy hunting of grizzly bears

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

August 15, 2017

Sierra Club BC released the following statement from campaigns director Caitlyn Vernon in response the government’s ban on the trophy hunting of grizzly bears:

“Sierra Club BC supports the provincial government’s ban on the trophy hunting of grizzly bears and all grizzly bear hunting in the Great Bear Rainforest, where this brings provincial policy in line with Indigenous law.

“Killing bears for sport is wasteful, opposed by an overwhelming large majority of British Columbians, and bad for our economy. These bears are worth more to our economy alive than dead.

“This announcement is also a welcome first step towards a more science-based approach to wildlife and conservation management. We welcome the consultations the government will undertake on a renewed wildlife management strategy.

“Our expectation is that the government will ensure, in implementing the ban, loopholes cannot be exploited by unscrupulous hunters. We expect to see rigorous compliance and enforcement measures put in place.

“Grizzly bear management, like that of many species and ecosystems, requires large landscape-scale conservation and the incorporation of Indigenous approaches.

“Whether in the Peace Valley, the Flathead or the Great Bear, hunting Grizzly bears has an adverse on ecosystems and wildlife dynamics in the landscape. Bears represent more than one animal, they support and are supported by entire ecological systems that need to be defended against human exploitation.”

Contact:

Caitlyn Vernon
Director of Campaigns
Sierra Club BC
C: (250) 896-3500

Sierra Club BC applauds Province’s Kinder Morgan announcement

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

August 10, 2017

Sierra Club BC released the following statement from communications director Tim Pearson in response to today’s Kinder Morgan announcement by the Province:

“Sierra Club BC welcomes and applauds today’s announcement.

“The provincial government was elected on a promise to use every tool available to stop the Kinder Morgan pipeline and the threat of a seven-fold increase in bitumen tankers on our coast.

“Today’s announcement is a serious and considered first step to fulfilling that promise.

“Engaging external counsel with the stature of Thomas Berger sends a clear signal that the Province will leave no legal stone unturned. There are complicated legal issues involved and no one is better qualified to provide advice to the Province.

“Berger’s legal career—including the 1973 Calder decision, the Mackenzie Valley Pipeline Inquiry in the mid-1970s and his influence in enshrining Indigenous rights in Canada’s constitution—is central to the evolution of Indigenous title and rights in Canada.

“Sierra Club BC is optimistic that the Province will be successful in gaining intervenor status in the various active court cases, based upon Berger’s advice.

“Sierra Club BC will continue its work through the Pull Together campaign to raise funds for First Nations court cases. So far, more than $1 million has been raised for both the successful Enbridge cases and those against Kinder Morgan.

“The combination of well-funded First Nations and an intervening provincial government will be a potent one in the courts.

“Today’s announcement also puts Kinder Morgan on notice that it has failed to meet the requirements for consultation with First Nations set out in the conditions of its environmental certificate, issued by the previous government.

“Kinder Morgan cannot commence construction in September without breaking the law, unless all conditions are met.

“We have a new government in part because voters on the pipeline route said no to Kinder Morgan and no to any government that would approve the pipeline.

“A clear majority of British Columbians voted for parties opposed to the pipeline and a seven-fold increase in tanker traffic.

“Sierra Club BC is encouraged that today’s announcement outlined first steps for the provincial government. We look forward to the Province expanding on those steps and signalling its continued commitment to stopping the Kinder Morgan pipeline and tankers project.”

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Contact:

Tim Pearson

Communications Director

Sierra Club BC

250-896-1556

tim@sierraclub.bc.ca

Now’s our chance for smarter environmental and energy reviews

Right now, we’ve got a once-in-a-generation opportunity to raise our voices for stronger environmental protections. The federal government is reviewing key laws and processes including the environmental assessment process and the National Energy Board.

These changes will impact Canada’s environmental and energy decisions for years to come. Please add your voice. Together we can let our MPs know we care about making these changes!

Let’s make sure Canada fixes the National Energy Board

The NEB review of Kinder Morgan was hopelessly biased towards corporate interests and denied many people the chance to speak. Sierra Club BC’s Credibility Crisis report outlined its many flaws, revealing an industry-captured regulator determined to approve the project.

Right now, the NEB review process makes it almost impossible for community voices to be heard. The NEB has far too much power when it comes to reviewing projects like pipelines. It should respect the rights and authority of Indigenous peoples and work for people, not industry.

You can help make sure upcoming changes to the National Energy Board go far enough to restore public trust in the NEB.

Tell your MP: “Keep Canada’s climate promise and fix the NEB” 

Let’s make sure environmental reviews of pipelines, dams and mines are strong and fair

We also have an opportunity to provide input into the federal environmental assessment review to improve protection of Canada’s natural environment.

It’s time for governments to get serious about climate action by incorporating a scientifically rigorous climate test in environmental assessments. A climate test would analyze greenhouse gas emissions related to a project (both upstream and downstream) and assess whether a proposed new energy project fits within national action towards decarbonization, or if instead it will prevent us from hitting climate targets. It asks “does it make climate change worse?” If the answer is yes, the project doesn’t get built.

Environmental assessments should also advance reconciliation and co-governance with Indigenous peoples, respecting Indigenous rights by engaging communities early in the process.

Tell your MP: “I want a next-generation environmental assessment law for Canada” 

Want to do more?

The federal government has also mandated reviews of other environmental laws. Learn how you can advocate for strengthening Canada’s Fisheries Act and the Navigation Protection Act.

This public comment period closes August 28. To learn more about this process, visit the government’s feedback website.

Want to help take Sierra Club BC’s climate action work to the next level? Sign up to volunteer or become a member today.

It doesn’t have to be a carbon offset

Take climate action by supporting Sierra Club BC’s campaign to protect Vancouver Island’s carbon-rich old-growth rainforest! 

It’s summer, and that means a lot of travel for families and communities. Have you considered buying carbon credits to offset some of your emissions?

Carbon offsets run the gamut from good to bad. Credible offsets can contribute to climate solutions – if they are combined with concrete steps to reduce emissions. Unfortunately there are many examples of dubious projects, making it important to verify whether standards are met.

As an alternative to buying carbon offsets, consider supporting Sierra Club BC’s work toward lasting protection of Vancouver Island’s carbon-rich endangered old-growth rainforest.

Wood waste from a clear cut. Photo by TJ Watt.

BC’s old-growth rainforests store up to 1,000 tonnes of carbon per hectare, one of the highest rates on earth. They’re like a carbon bank, accumulating carbon in soil, trees and organic matter over millennia. Reducing emissions by avoiding logging of this old-growth has immediate benefits for the climate.

Sadly, about half of the carbon stored in these ecosystems gets released in clearcut logging. This is often combined with slash burning, an egregious practice that releases millions of tonnes of greenhouse gases annually and must be phased out.

It can take centuries until the biomass reaches previous levels—time we don’t have.

 

While improving forest management will help in the fight against climate change, the most urgent step is to simply leave carbon-rich and resilient forests alive and standing.

This is why Sierra Club BC is working so hard to protect ancient forests.

By becoming a member of Sierra Club BC, you can help protect British Columbia’s forests and our climate.

Vancouver Island: The last stand for carbon-rich old-growth

In BC, Vancouver Island is Ground Zero for logging of endangered old-growth rainforest. A recent Sierra Club BC analysis showed that destruction of the Island’s original old-growth rainforest is occurring three times faster than primary forest loss in tropical rainforests.

Clear cut logging in East Creek, Vancouver Island. Photo by TJ Watt.

Globally, the loss of primary forests – characterized by ecological processes largely undisturbed by human activity – is threatening species, carbon storage and environmental services. In some countries this is primarily in the form of deforestation; in other countries such as Canada, this is primarily through the replacement of rich ancient forests with even-aged young forest.

Sierra Club BC’s data shows that between 1990 and 2015, Vancouver Island’s primary old-growth forest has declined by thirty per cent.[1] (Three times higher than the ten percent decline for primary forests of tropical countries over the same time period.[2]) Only about ten percent of the biggest trees remain standing. In the last few years the annual old-growth logging rate was 9,000 hectares per year or twenty-five hectares a day.

We have estimated the impact of one year’s worth of old-growth logging on Vancouver Island on our climate. We found old-growth logging on the Island alone essentially eliminated BC’s progress in reducing carbon emissions in the same year, releasing approximately 3 million tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and nullifying the province’s progress in reducing annual emissions by the same amount.

Solutions are possible when we work together

The 2016 Great Bear Rainforest Agreements show that solutions are possible. The agreements met science-based conservation levels, strengthened First Nations rights, enabled conservation financing and forest carbon credit projects, and gave forestry companies certainty for logging under stringent standards. The Great Bear Rainforest carbon project documentation showed that the reduced rate of logging is resulting in 600,000 tonnes of carbon emissions reductions annually, benefiting the region’s First Nations with revenue from carbon.

The Great Bear Rainforest lies within a particularly rich region of the province – and North America – for carbon retention. Map source: BC Ministry of Environment.

New protected areas and conservation measures for Vancouver Island must respect First Nations rights and interests, enable a transition to sustainable second-growth forestry and support diverse economic activities such as tourism and reduce carbon emissions. The Ahousaht Nation in Clayoquot Sound is leading the way in demonstrating alternatives to old-growth logging, with their land use vision that includes an end to industrial logging in their territory.

Sierra Club BC mapping shows approximately 1.5 million hectares of remaining old-growth forest on Vancouver IsIand and the South Coast area that are currently unprotected. Within this area, there are 600,000 hectares of relatively productive stands, with significant carbon storagecapacity and a higher likelihood of getting targeted for logging. These forests alone store the equivalent of thirteen times BC’s annual emissions.

Sierra Club BC will work with the new BC government, First Nations and the forestry sector to increase protection of ecosystems with high carbon and species habitat value, in particular temperate rainforests, as a key element in its response to global warming. Old-growth rainforest is more resilient than younger forest, and BC’s ecosystems and species habitat are shifting rapidly in a changing climate. That’s why ecologists consider the remaining old-growth a “non-renewable” resource.

Join us today

We will only get there with your support. We cannot tell you exactly how many tonnes of carbon will remain stored in ancient trees as a result of our work, instead of getting chopped and partly burned in slash piles. But we can assure you that our role has been and will continue to be critical to ensure progress for new protected areas and our climate.

Please consider supporting Sierra Club BC’s work toward lasting protection of Vancouver Island’s carbon-rich endangered old-growth rainforest.

You can do this by becoming a member of Sierra Club BC. The best way to support our work is with a monthly contribution of $8, $15 or $25.

So, are you in?

 

Feature image by Andrew S. Wright.

Footnotes:

[1]  The original extent of old-growth rainforest on Vancouver Island was 2,600,000 hectares, of which anestimated 1,082,000 hectares were remaining by 1990. By 2015 the remaining old-growth was reduced to 748,000 hectares, adecline of 30 percent over the course of just 25 years.

[2]  According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, tropical countries showed an overall decline of 10 percent of their primary forest in the last 25 years (from 1990 to 2015).

The Future is Here for the New Government of British Columbia

Record-breaking wildfires and heat waves are a reminder that we have little time to save nature, phase out fossil fuels and leap to a low-carbon economy, all at the same time.

Abnormally high temperatures in BC, August 3 2017. Image courtesy of TropicalTidbits.com

British Columbia’s unprecedented wildfires are still not under control. August is beginning with a new heat wave and no reprieve from the climate crisis for the new BC government. This ongoing state of emergency is a reminder that our planet is changing rapidly – and that our governments have to act like they mean it, to save our world as we know it.

BC has a unique opportunity and must play a crucial role in the fight against global warming. The province is outstanding due to its large size, spectacular beauty, and vast natural resources which together confer wealth on a relatively small human population. Our use of this abundance, however, has been in many cases short-sighted and unfair.

A new vision is needed. It is justified by the recognition that critical change is now coming at an increasingly visible rate.  We have significantly overstepped the planet’s capacity to provide what we demand, absorb the pollution we produce and heal the wounds we have inflicted on its natural systems. In many parts of the world, lives and business-as-usual are already being disrupted by an increasingly unpredictable climate.

Fortunately, solutions exist that enable us to save our natural systems while offering a sustainable lifestyle. Wind and solar are now beating the price of fossil fuel energy in a growing number of countries. Grid and battery solutions are being developed at a mind-boggling pace.

Renewable energy systems, improved resource and energy efficiency, mass transit, materials recycling and new service models like the sharing economy are contributing more and cleaner jobs than resource extraction sectors. Our province, like so many other parts of the world, needs the leadership necessary to quickly phase in solutions and phase out destructive activities. History shows that ecosystem breakdown makes societal collapse more likely. Now is the time to make the changes we need to make while relatively stable conditions prevail.

A coherent response to the climate crisis requires far reaching steps to reduce climate pollution, moving to low carbon economy and saving nature at the same time without pretending we can take one step at a time. Stopping the pollution from our old economic system is crucial to maintain a healthy environment as a basis for the new economy. Increasing protection of ecosystems on land and in the sea to safeguard environmental services is also tied to maintaining the foundations for long-term prosperity.

BC’s new provincial government made far reaching policy commitments for people and the planet. Sierra Club BC has developed a vision called The Future is Here to support the needed policy changes.  To defend our communities and environment now and into the future, BC needs to show leadership in three key areas – climate action, nature conservation and a low carbon economy.

Climate action

BC must follow climate science, meet existing emissions reduction targets and set new ambitious targets to exceed the Paris Agreement. We must expand and increase the provincial carbon tax and declare the majority of our vast fossil fuel reserves off-limits to extraction, based on the newest carbon budget research. We have sufficient renewable energy sources and low carbon solutions to become carbon neutral before 2050.

Nature conservation

Our environment is healthy enough that we can set aside fifty percent of it in support of nature. We need an expanded network of protected areas with new and existing land use designations that address Aboriginal title and respect cultural values, and give priority to species and carbon sinks while allowing appropriate uses.  We can allow species the means to adapt to the changing climate while protecting clean water, air and soils for our children. BC’s globally rare temperate old-growth rainforests are a particularly spectacular example of resilient ecosystems with outstanding values for species, communities and climate that we can save if we act today.

Low carbon economy

By redirecting resources and political priorities, we can create new, better and safer jobs and build a low carbon economy that maintains our high quality of life with a greatly reduced resource footprint.  We can and must phase out oil and gas activities such as fracking and the Kinder Morgan pipeline and tanker proposal that destroy our environment and are increasingly uneconomic as international climate agreements are implemented.

Sierra Club BC’s The Future is Here vision includes ten recommendations outlining more detailed steps to address these three areas of action.

No government will be able to implement the scope of change required once the costs of environmental crisis and climate impacts become unmanageable.  As a wealthy industrialized country with a high carbon footprint we have the ability – and the responsibility – to pursue an alternative path. The new BC government has promised to start the change we need, so that we can avoid turmoil such as this year’s terrible wildfires in the future.

Check out The Future is Here and let the new BC government know you expect strong climate leadership.

Petro-Corporations vs. the people of the Skeena

Old Hazelton. Photo by Mark Worthing.

By Mark Worthing, Conservation and Climate Campaigner

This July, I traveled north to visit communities within the mighty Skeena watershed. This was a chance to learn about the petroleum industry’s attempted incursions into Wet’suwet’en, Gitxsan and Tsimshian territories, and the communities that are defending their homes, lands and waters.

The resiliency, power and commitment of this Indigenous-led land defence work leaves me speechless.  And amongst the settler communities who have made homes in the vast drainages of the Skeena and its tributaries, there is an intensely rich understanding of their own relationships with the land.

The stories, solidarity and community-based visioning happening in these places is some of the strongest and most colourful this side of the Rockies.

Yet attempts by international corporations to push extractive industries remain at an all-time high. With recent shifts in government and successes under our belt—like cancellation of the Enbridge pipeline and tankers project, and Petronas’ fracked gas plant—people in the northwest are reviewing their tactics while remaining steadfast in long term land-based sovereignty work.

Hagwilget Canyon. Photo by Mark Worthing.

From my perspective, the general feeling is this: people are tentatively hopeful.

But the work never seems to end, and we must not let our guard down simply because there is a different flavor of political power at the helm.  The proof will be in the pudding. The collective work of cultivating healthy cultures of resistance to industrial extractivism is a lifestyle and not simply a campaign.  And there are many more existing and proposed pipelines that cross those territories without consent.

With multinational fracking and LNG corporations attempting to force projects down the throats of communities and seeking anyone who is willing to sign deals, we will need to stay true to our work in uplifting and affirming the traditional Indigenous governance structures that are inextricably linked to the land.

I admit I had never quite grasped the implications of the Delgamuukw and Tsilhqot’in court cases until I spent time in the Yintah (Territory) of the Unist’ot’en and Luutkudziiwus, different house groups with specific lands within the Wet’suwet’en and Gitxsan Nations respectively. They are each occupying their territories full time according to their own laws. The court cases laid the groundwork for obtaining Title to lands in the eyes of Canadian law, which would return governance and authority to First Nations. This would make stopping unwanted pipelines a whole lot easier.

I also spent time with community members in Dodge Cove on Digby Island, a short boat ride from Prince Rupert. Within an hour of arriving, I heard about Petronas cancelling its controversial fracked gas plant on Lelu Island. The whole town was buzzing with excitement.  That night we raised a glass of champagne to its defeat and to the success of the land defence work of the Lax Kw’alaams and those who helped defend the salmon habitat of Flora Bank.

Unist’ot’en mural. Photo by Mark Worthing.

But for the community of Dodge Cove, the fight isn’t over. They have another battle on their hands: the massive fracked gas plant being proposed by Nexen, owned by Chinese oil giant CNOOC.

The company’s complete disregard for this community was horrific to hear about. The plant would be built less than a kilometre from this historic town, violating international siting standards and putting human safety at risk. They continue to buzz helicopters above people’s homes and conduct test-drilling without consultation or consideration. Don’t believe what you hear from this company. If you see what they are proposing on the ground, your stomach will turn.

Members of the community were grateful for the help Sierra Club BC’s supporters provided by sending letters to the BC Environmental Assessment Office. The EAO received so many submissions—the vast majority of which were opposed to the project—that the review was paused for nearly three months.

But now it’s up and running again, and you can be sure the company is moving full steam ahead.

LNG is not dead in BC, not by a long shot.

 

Stay up to date on the fight for a sustainable energy future in BC by signing up for our monthly newsletter and action alerts.

Feature image: Suskwa River by Mark Worthing.

Sierra Club BC applauds referral of Site C to BCUC

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

August 2, 2017

Sierra Club BC released the following statement from campaigns director Caitlyn Vernon in response to the referral of Site C to the BC Utilities Commission:

 

“Sierra Club BC applauds the government for following through on its commitment to refer Site C to the BC Utilities Commission.

“This is good news for Hydro ratepayers, who are at last being considered in decision-making, based on real evidence.

“The reality is that we don’t need Site C power, it’s hideously expensive and inevitable cost overruns would be paid for by BC ratepayers, and more environmentally and economically viable alternatives are available today.

“Beyond the cost of Site C, the dam should be stopped to defend farmland and First Nation treaty rights, and to develop renewable energy options for long term employment.

“We were especially pleased to see that the review’s terms of reference call for an examination of other commercially feasible generating projects providing for B.C.’s power needs, as well as demand side management.

“The world is moving away from large scale hydroelectricity, which is getting more and more expensive compared to alternatives. Wind and solar projects across the globe are providing electricity today for as little as one third the cost of Site C power.

“The cost of alternatives continues to plummet. Since 2008, the cost of wind power has dropped 41% and the cost of utility scale solar 64%. Just in the last year, wind has dropped 18% and solar 17%. These reductions will only continue. Globally last year, 55.3% of new generation capacity last  was from sources other than fossil fuels, nuclear and large scale hydro.

“We have questions as to how the BCUC will “consult interested parties” and “obtain expert advice,” and will be seeking clarification from the Minister in due course.

“The Site C dam would flood First Nations graveyards along with farmland capable of providing fruit and vegetables to one million people, which is crucial as climate change threatens our food security. And it would have a huge negative effect on biodiversity in the region. That’s why we’re calling for a stop to Site C no matter the outcome of the BCUC review.

Contact:

Caitlyn Vernon
Director of Campaigns
Sierra Club BC
C: (250) 896-3500

Outdoor learning: Professional development for teachers

By James Davis, Education Program Manager

June 2017

Our wonderful Environmental Educator Kirsten Dallimore and I had the privilege of facilitating six environmental education professional development workshops for teachers during the month of May.  The workshops took place in Fort St. John, Victoria and Surrey and covered topics such as building a routine to take your class outside regularly, connections to the new BC curriculum and conducting a risk/benefit assessment for an outdoor learning space.

Enjoying the woods. Photo by Nikko Snow.

The highlight of the workshops for many teachers was the time they got to spend outside. We put teachers in the role of students and led them through nature scavenger hunts, games of food chain tag, and other nature connection activities including “Sit Spot,” which allowed participants to sit quietly and observe (something many teachers commented that they rarely have time to do).

I really enjoyed these opportunities to get out from behind my computer and meet teachers face-to-face.  I was able to hear about the challenges that they face in trying to take their students outside during class time. Many of them also shared inspiring stories about the ways that they are helping young learners get outdoors and develop relationships with their natural surroundings.

We got great feedback from the teachers, with a vast majority saying they felt better equipped and more confident to take their students outside than they did before the workshop.

Looking forward to the 2017/18 school year, we are hoping to offer more of these Pro-D workshops and to collaborate with local teachers’ unions to make these opportunities available. Our goal is the work with these unions to institutionalize environmental education training for teachers, with the vision of having they types of Pro-D workshops offered to every teacher in the province by 2020.

If you are interested in having us visit your school district to facilitate Pro-D workshops this coming school year, please get in touch with me at james@sierraclub.bc.ca.

In the meantime, enjoy your summer and don’t forget to get outside!

Want to help us do more? We rely on donations to keep our programs free, accessible, and inclusive year after year. Please donate today to ensure they can stay this way.

Feature image by Navarana Smith.

Connections in the Peace

As I stood on the shores of the Peace River in Northern BC this past spring, I was reminded of the incredible diversity of land and water we hold here in beautiful BC.

Our children and future generations deserve to experience all of this amazing biodiversity. They deserve to know where they live and develop a connection to the place they call home. If we plan to nourish that connection then we must plan to protect it for the future. Children need opportunities to learn how they are part of this place so they don’t feel like they are separate from the rest of life that surrounds them.

As Sierra Club BC’s Environmental Educator for the past 3 years, my job has been to facilitate an opportunity for children to connect with nature in their home place.

Kirsten with Peace Valley farmer Arlene Boon.

This year I have had the pleasure of traveling to Fort St John and visiting the Peace River Valley during the fall and springtime.  My favourite experience was standing beside the Peace River and taking in all the scenery, then speaking with students about how they connect with the Peace and the surrounding area in the community of Hudson’s Hope.

Students shared with me their concerns about flooding and what will happen over the next few years to their home if the Site C dam goes ahead. Students and teachers spoke of the changes they have seen already within their community due to forest fires, the pine beetle infestation and the building of hydro dams. This has all caused changes to the river and the natural landscape.

Life along the river is getting tougher for these folks. Each day brings more challenges for holding onto the farms and forests, and of course their homes along the river. Learn how you can get involved in our campaign to stop the Site C dam and protect the Peace River Valley.

As I spent more time in Hudson’s Hope I soon realized that these students have a close connection to this place. They told me stories about their favourite experiences in nature: fishing, hunting, camping and snowmobiling in the area. Some kids travel quite a long distance to school each day and many spend their time helping out on their families’ farms along the river.

Kids in the Peace River Valley. Photo by Don Hoffmann.

One Grade 5/6 class took me to see a local forest they love to visit. This is a place they said, where “you can always see lots of deer.” Indeed, we saw lots of deer making an appearance in the forest and foraging for food after a long winter. I took walks with students to the toboggan hill near their school each day and we used that space to explore the variety of plants and animals by doing a fun and interactive nature scavenger hunt. I believe one of their favourite activities was rolling down the hill after our closing circle.

One thing I have become very aware of, no matter where you are in BC, is that finding as many earthworms as you can after a rain is truly a favourite activity!

The Peace River Valley holds a dear place in my heart. I send them lots of positive thoughts as the future of the river, the wildlife and the people are at stake with decisions to be made about the Site C dam. Help kids in the Peace protect the places they love – tell Trudeau to halt construction on the Site C dam.

Sierra Club BC’s K-8 environmental education programs delivered in classrooms across the province are all developed to meet BC curriculum requirements and connect kids with nature in their own community. I encourage you to check out our upcoming programs and keep connected to receive updates regarding fall registrations. This has been a very rewarding year for the education team with the hire of our new program manager and the success of our Climate and Place pilot program delivered in the CRD. I look forward to connecting with all of you in the fall. Enjoy a wonderful and relaxing summer in the great outdoors.

Donate today to help us reach more children next year!

UNESCO calls urgently on Canada to protect Wood Buffalo National Park

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

June 6 2016

New draft decision calls on Canada to conduct a proper assessment of Site C dam and make good on earlier promises.

June 5, 2017, FORT MCMURRAY – The UN’s World Heritage Committee is preparing to push Canada for immediate action to better protect Wood Buffalo National Park following Friday’s release of a strong decision proposed for the 40th session of the World Heritage Committee this summer.

The draft decision calls on Canada to, by February 1 2018, have made progress towards fully implementing all 17 of the recommendations from the fall 2016 UNESCO mission to Wood Buffalo National Park. This includes finally conducting a proper assessment of the downstream impacts of the Site C dam and developing concrete mechanisms to improve water governance for the Peace Athabasca Delta. The draft decision also urges Canada to make good on its promise to develop a major Action Plan for ensuring the Wood Buffalo’s protection and to move more quickly to develop and implement that Action Plan. The absence of a timely action by Canada will result in Wood Buffalo National Park being relegated to the list of World Heritage in Danger.

“Once again the international community is calling on Canada to safeguard Wood Buffalo National Park against encroaching industrial pressures. It’s time for Canada to immediately implement UNESCO’s recommendations and start protecting the Peace Athabasca Delta,” said Mikisew Chief Steve Courtoreille.

“The UNESCO report was a wake up call for Canada. We intend to continue working with the World Heritage Committee to hold Minister McKenna to her commitment to take real action to protect this amazing area,” added Melody Lepine, Mikisew’s lead on its UNESCO petition.

Mikisew’s supporters also welcomed the draft decision.

“This decision lays out what Canada’s governments need to do to live up to their responsibilities under the UN World Heritage Convention to safeguard Wood Buffalo on behalf of the world community,” said Alison Woodley, National Director of CPAWS Parks Program. “It’s a clear message from the UN that the threats facing the park from upstream hydro-electric projects and oil sands development are unacceptable, and that Canada needs to take concerted and immediate action to save this global treasure, working in partnership with Indigenous peoples.”

“We are pleased that the World Heritage Committee is poised to strongly reaffirm its position that the Site C dam poses a threat to Wood Buffalo National Park and the Peace Athabasca Delta, and that impacts from Site C must be understood,” Says Galen Armstrong of Sierra Club BC.  “Sierra Club BC is calling on the Trudeau government to suspend its approval of Site C and order an immediate halt to construction, while Canada assesses the report’s recommendations and implements changes. In the long run Site C simply cannot be built.”

“Canada keeps saying that nothing can be done about Site C, but the World Heritage Commission isn’t buying that and neither are we,” says Candace Batycki of Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative. “The incoming BC government has committed to send Site C for assessment by the BC Utilities Commission. Meanwhile Canada is being asked to make every effort to understand the possible impacts of the Site C project on Wood Buffalo. They don’t need a legal mechanism to do that, they just need the will.”

The World Heritage Committee will vote on the draft decision at its upcoming meeting in July 2017.

For more information, visit mikisewgir.com/projects/.

For interviews with Mikisew Cree First Nation representatives:

Melody Lepine, Mikisew Cree First Nation Industry and Government Relations, 780-792-8736, melody.lepine@mcfngir.ca

For interview with environmental group representatives:

Alison Woodley, BSc, MA, CPAWS, 613-203-1172, awoodley@cpaws.org

Caleb Behn, Keepers of the Water, caleb.behn@gmail.com

Galen Armstrong, Sierra Club BC, 778-679-3191, galen@sierraclub.bc.ca

Candace Batycki, Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative, 250-352-3830