Seattle, Washington -
02/05/2010 - Steve Kallick, director of Pew Environment Group’s International Boreal Conservation Campaign, issued the following statement today commending Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper for creating the 2.65 million acre (10,700 square kilometer) Mealy Mountains National Park in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, which will help preserve the Canadian boreal forest, the world’s largest, most intact old-growth forest. In addition, the government of Newfoundland and Labrador announced the designation of an adjacent 700,000 acres (3,000 square kilometers) for inclusion in a new provincial park, for a total protected area of 3.3 million acres (nearly 14,000 square kilometers).
“Congratulations to Prime Minister Harper and Premier Danny Williams. This is a great leap forward in efforts to complete the Canadian National Park system. Prime Minister Harper’s leadership has been critical to the protection of Canada’s boreal forest—considered by scientists to be a top global conservation priority.
“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.
“Bigger than the United States’ Yellowstone and Yosemite parks combined, the scale of this new protected area is remarkable. It will rival the largest protected areas in eastern North America, equal in size to New York’s Adirondack State Park, twice the size of Everglades National Park and six times the size of Great Smoky Mountains National Park.”
Canada’s Mealy Mountains National Park announcement follows others from the provinces of Ontario, Quebec and Manitoba and the federal government in the Northwest Territories to designate more than 23 million acres of new parks and wildlife refuges and to undertake conservation planning to protect another 200 million acres, an area twice the size of California. The North American boreal forest stretches from Newfoundland and Labrador to Alaska and surpasses the Amazon Rainforest in size and carbon storage. In 2007, 1,500 international scientists recommended that at least half of Canada's boreal forest be protected.