January 23, 2006

MOU advances boreal conservation in Newfoundland and Labrador

The government of Newfoundland and Labrador recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Canadian Boreal Initiative (CBI) committing both partners to work co-operatively to advance the establishment of protected areas in the province's boreal region. The MOU recognizes that the province's boreal regions present significant opportunities for conservation and sustainable development, and will help protect its environment and natural heritage.

"This new partnership will enhance the collection of scientific and traditional ecological knowledge on our study areas in order to move them towards wilderness or ecological reserve status," said Environment and Conservation Minister Tom Osborne. "It will also provide expertise to facilitate dialogue among provincial, national, and international organizations interested in advancing protected areas."

The MOU signing coincided with the celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Wilderness and Ecological Reserves Advisory Council (WERAC). Established in 1980 through legislation, the council's role is to advise the provincial government on the establishment and management of wilderness and ecological reserves in Newfoundland and Labrador. More than 60 individuals have served on the advisory council since its inception, demonstrating dedication and commitment by volunteering and working to protect special ecosystems and wilderness in the province.

CBI director Cathy Wilkinson emphasized the globally significant conservation opportunities afforded by the large intact areas of boreal forest in Newfoundland and Labrador and said the new agreement will add to the CBI's continuing collaborative work with WERAC, the Innu Nation, the Protected Areas Association and others in the province.

Through WERAC's efforts, Newfoundland and Labrador currently has 18 wilderness and ecological reserves, including Cape St Mary's Seabird Ecological Reserve, Mistaken Point Fossil Ecological Reserve, Bay du Nord Wilderness Reserve and Burnt Cape Botanical Ecological Reserve.

The CBI is an independent organization working with industry, Aboriginal people and conservationists to link science, policy and conservation activities in Canada's boreal region. More information is available on the CBI Web site, www.borealcanada.ca.

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