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Canada’s First Nations and Inuit have set aside over 50 million acres of land and ocean for conservation

good news Nov 03, 2022
Northern lights

Indigenous communities across northern Canada are designating vast swaths of land and ocean, perhaps exceeding 50 million acres or more, for permanent conservation. These massive conservation efforts will not only serve to preserve ancestral Indigenous lands and ways of life, but ecosystems that promote biodiversity, help sequester carbon, and keep polluting resources out of the air.

The most recent parcel slated for conservation is a wetlands area about twice the size of Yellowstone National Park in the Northwest Territories. But the lands set aside for conservation also include a one million acre national park in the Northwest Territories set aside by the Sahtu Dene people, 3.5 million acres set aside by Dehcho Dene people, 3.8 million acres in the Yukon’s Peel River watershed, 27 million acres of marine area in Nunavut set aside by Qikiqtani Inuit Association, 12 million acres of boreal peatlands in northern Manitoba set aside by three separate Indigenous communities, and more.

Scientists have hailed the scale of these conservation efforts as “unprecedented.” Jeff Wells of the National Audubon Society said, “The scale of these land withdrawals is certainly far exceeding even the imaginations of conservationists in the U.S., or really from most of the world.” He continued, “Down here in the U.S, or even in southern Canada, it is considered a triumph to conserve a parcel in the thousands of acres, while these Indigenous-led initiatives in Canada are conserving landscapes in the millions of acres.”

Thanks to First Nations and Inuit groups in Canada, the world now has a powerful example of game-changing leadership in the fight against climate change and biodiversity loss.

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