The Yukon government could do its bit to help protect at least 50% of Canada’s boreal forest by accepting the Peel commission’s final recommended land use plan, says a group of international scientists.
That plan recommends protecting 80% or 13 millions acres of the watershed.
It “should be adopted by the Yukon government,” says the International Boreal Conservation Science Panel in its new report, Conserving the World’s Last Great Forest is Possible: Here’s How.
Large scale conservation of areas like the Peel is one of the “last-of-our-lifetime” opportunities for boreal protection from the Yukon to Newfoundland, says the report.
In every region, the “last great forest” is under siege from mining, oil/gas and forestry, it says.
But it’s not too late to strike a true balance between conservation and development if decision-makers take the panel’s recommendations on how to move forward.
Among the panel's key scientific guidelines:
- At least 50% of the boreal region should be permanently protected from further development to maintain current ecological processes and wildlife species.
- Industrial activities on boreal lands, outside of those where development is prohibited, should be carried out with the lowest possible impact on biodiversity and the ecosystems.
- Land-use planning should precede decisions regarding industrial development in the boreal and must be led by local communities. Particular attention must be paid to the views and concerns of aboriginal communities in the region.
- The impact of development and other industrial boreal land use should be rigorously monitored and regularly and meaningfully reviewed by independent experts.
The Yukon government told local media it’s not commenting on the panel's boreal report.
It's in final talks about the Peel plan with the four affected First Nations – Na-cho Nyak Dun, Tr’ondek Hwech’in, Gwich’in Tribal Council and Vuntut Gwitchin.
Up to this point, it has vehemently opposed the commission’s plan, saying the wilderness watershed should be open to industrial development.
It's drafted its own plan that protects virtually none of the watershed.
Click here to read the full Great Last Forest report.