Conservationists are celebrating Canada's decision to develop a new national park in the remote Northwest territories that will be larger than Banff National Park in the Canadian Rockies or the Grandy Canyon National Park.
On Monday, the Canadian governmented granted interim protection for 7600 square kilometers, or roughly 1.8 million acres, in the headwaters of the Nahanni River, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the Northwest Territories.
The proposed new National Park will be called Naats'ihch'oh, which means “stands like a porcupine” in the local Dene language. The new National Park encompasses spectacular wilderness and important habitat for the endangered mountain caribou.
Since January 2007, the federal governments, working with First Nations, the territorial government and local stakeholders have designated 40 million acres for conservation in the Northwest Territories. Monday's announcement compliments the Government of Canada's August 2007 announcement of plans to expand the existing Nahanni National Park to include the entire watershed. It is also one more step towards completing the NWT Protected Areas Strategy and Canada's national parks system.
“Canadians can be proud of the fact that our government has recognized the importance of protecting this entire region, and is taking steps today to establish not one, but two of these world class conservation areas in the
Nahanni region of the NWT”, said Larry Innes, Executive Director of the Canadian Boreal Initiative. “I think that future generations will come to consider the Nahanni National Park and the future Naats'ihch'oh National Park in much the same way as we now look at Banff and Jasper.”
Communities within the Sahtu region, together with the territorial and federal governments are also considering additional lands to complete a conservation network in the region through both the Northwest Territories Protected Areas Strategy and through the Sahtu Land Use Plan. The goal is to balance conservation with proposed development in the region.
The announcement was well received by the international conservation community. Steve Kallick of the Pew Environment Group's International Boreal Conservation Campaign noted, “This year's conservation withdrawals in the Northwest Territories are some of the largest in North
American history. These are globally significant commitments, and demonstrate that Canada's is taking action to protect the internationally important Boreal