New National Park a Boost for Boreal Species

Credit: Parks Canada

Today the government of Canada announced the creation of a vast new national park. Mealy Mountains National Park will be larger than Yellowstone and Yosemite combined, and will act as a vital refuge for increasingly threatened species like woodland caribou and the eastern population of the Harlequin Duck.

Credit: Tom Vezo

In addition, the park will recognize the cultural traditions of local indigenous peoples and allow them to continue traditional sustenance methods like hunting and fishing.

Adding to the excitement of today, the province of Newfoundland and Labrador jointly announced the creation of an adjacent provincial park to help maintain the ecological quality of the area.

So far it has received good pick-up in the media in Canada (and deservedly). Here’s an article from the Montreal Gazette:

Huge new national park announced for Labrador
By Randy Boswell
OTTAWA — Environmentalists are heaping praise on the Conservative government after its announcement Friday of the creation of a massive new national park in Labrador — a sprawling, 11,000-sq.-km protected area described as “bigger than the United States’ Yellowstone and Yosemite parks combined.”

Details about the new Mealy Mountains National Park, to be the single largest federal conservation zone in Eastern Canada, were unveiled by Environment Minister Jim Prentice during a press conference in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, N.L. with Newfoundland and Labrador’s Environment Minister Charlene Johnson.

“As we enter into the International Year of Biodiversity, it is fitting that we are working to establish a national park reserve to protect this spectacular boreal landscape for all time, for all Canadians,” Prentice said.

“This part of Labrador is not only of ecological significance, it is also of great cultural importance and we are committed to moving forward in a way that recognizes and respects the traditional connections people have with the land.”

Johnson also announced plans by the province to create a waterway park along the adjacent Eagle River that will expand the total protected area to 13,000 square kilometres.

“Together, these parks in the Mealy Mountains, when established, will protect a stunning array of boreal ecosystems and wildlife, along with landscapes of great cultural significance,” said a Parks Canada statement.

Pew Environment Group, a U.S.-based conservation advocacy organization, hailed the new park as a “great leap forward” for Canada’s national park system, the protection of the continent’s boreal forest and the promotion of biodiversity.

“These new parks will draw tourists from around the world, conserve lands important to aboriginal Canadians and safeguard the habitat of the Mealy Mountains woodland caribou herd,” said Steve Kallick, the director of Pew’s international boreal conservation campaign. “The scale of this new protected area is remarkable.”

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