Manitoba Protects More Than a Million Acres in Boreal Shield

Way to World Heritage Site Recognition paved

On Monday, Jan. 14, the Government of Manitoba safeguarded 1.3 million acres, the largest protected area of boreal shield in North America. The protections come in the form of two First Nations Land Management Plans that were built upon the guidance and advice of Anishinaabe Elders, whose ancestors have lived on the land for thousands of years.

The Pauingassi First Nation planning area is just over 3,100 square kilometres (1,200 square miles). Approximately 5 percent of the area is designated as open to commercial development, 8 percent allows for limited development, and the remaining 87 percent is fully protected.

The Little Grand Rapids planning area covers more than 4,700 square kilometres (1,800 square miles). Approximately 10 percent of the area allows for commercial development. The rest provides full protection of boreal forest, rivers and waterways, and ways of life, with some limited development and landscape management on an additional 31 percent.

“As Canadian governments seek more productive ways to work with Aboriginal peoples to grow northern economies while protecting ecological treasures like the boreal forest—the world's largest intact ecosystem—they can look to Manitoba's Pimachiowin Aki partnerships for guidance,” said Mat Jacobson, manager of boreal conservation, for the Pew Environment Group. “The Pimachiowin Aki World Heritage site will be a model for sustainable development, responsible conservation, and respect for First Nations.”

These land-management plans are part of the 43,000 square kilometer (16,600 square miles) Pimachiowin Aki area, which has been nominated for recognition by the United Nations as a World Heritage site. This nomination is the first Canada has submitted based on both natural and cultural heritage values. The Ojibwe name of the propected area, Pimachiowin Aki, means "the land that gives life."

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