Ducks Unlimited Canada applauds the protection of critical Edéhzhíe wetlands as part of new Indigenous Protected Area
Ottawa, Ontario — Known as the “Jewel of the Dehcho,” Edéhzhíe, N.W.T. is an extraordinary place. The 14,249-square-kilometre area west of Yellowknife has supported First Nations people for millennia, making it an integral part of their culture and identity. It’s also a significant refuge for wildlife. The area’s wetlands and forests provide essential habitat for waterfowl, caribou and wood bison. Now, Edéhzhíe has another deserving claim to fame: designation as a new Indigenous Protected Area (IPA).
Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC) congratulates the Dehcho First Nations, the Government of Canada, the Canadian Wildlife Service, the Government of the Northwest Territories and the many partners who helped realize this important achievement. The IPA is a powerful example of collaboration, which will also help Canada meet its Target 1 goal to protect at least 17 per cent of terrestrial areas and inland water by 2020.
Under the Edéhzhíe IPA designation, the Dehcho First Nations and the Government of Canada will work together to protect the area’s ecological integrity from impacts of development while maintaining Indigenous Peoples’ ways of life now and into the future.
“DUC supports the creation of Indigenous Protected Areas and will continue sharing our conservation knowledge with Indigenous Peoples as part of their land-use planning,” says Jim Brennan, director of government affairs. “Ongoing collaborations like this are key to conservation progress in the North.”
Thanks to a unique land contribution, DUC was among the partners who helped the Dehcho people along the journey to secure protection for Edéhzhíe.
More than 15 years ago, when the Canadian Wildlife Service began discussions with stakeholders, one private land holding remained isolated within the boundaries of the proposed Edéhzhíe protected area. It was the missing piece of the puzzle.
DUC purchased this key property with funds provided by a variety of sources, including the North American Wetlands Conservation Act and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, and agreed to hold it until the Edéhzhíe lands would be formally and permanently protected, enabling DUC to then relinquish its ownership.
“DUC is proud to have played a role in helping the Dehcho people realize their conservation vision for the Edéhzhíe lands,” says Brennan.
DUC has been delivering conservation work in Canada’s boreal region for more than 20 years. The area, rich in wetlands, is central to DUC’s conservation objectives and key to continental waterfowl populations.
Visit Edéhzhíe’s Horn Plateau in spring and you’ll see millions of migratory birds including Tundra swans and greater white-fronted geese flocking to the area to breed and raise their young. But that’s not all. Boreal wetlands also filter pollutants from fresh water and store vast amounts of carbon, making them an important climate adaptation tool. Boreal wetlands are ecological powerhouses, and approximately 34 per cent of the Edéhzhíe IPA consists of wetland habitat.
Just as the boreal region has been central to DUC’s mission, so have partnerships with the Indigenous Peoples who live there. To assist with the development of various land-use plans, DUC combines its expertise in mapping and classifying wetlands with traditional knowledge provided by Indigenous communities. Results help the communities determine which lands to protect and where to allow development, providing clarity for industry and opportunities for conservation.
Last year, DUC partnered with the Akaitcho Treaty 8 Tribal Council in the Northwest Territories to map 77 million acres (312 million hectares) of boreal wetlands in the Akaitcho region. This summer, DUC and the Dehcho will embark on a new project to map wetlands in the Dehcho region, to further assist with their land use planning.
“DUC will continue to work in close partnership with Indigenous Peoples in the boreal region and across Canada,” says Brennan. “These relationships reflect our commitment to the spirit of reconciliation, Indigenous land management and the concept of self-determination over its future use.”
Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC) is the leader in wetland conservation. A registered charity, DUC partners with government, industry, non-profit organizations and landowners to conserve wetlands that are critical to waterfowl, wildlife and the environment. www.ducks.ca
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