¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†I often¬†wish the U.S. were more like Canada.¬† Canada has been much more¬†serious about protecting its natural treasures than has the U.S.¬† Nonetheless, the following good news story from Canada is good¬†news for all of us.¬† ¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†
¬†¬†¬†¬† Over the last year or so,¬†the Canadian government been putting in place important protections¬†for its¬†Arctic north.
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†Last¬†summer, Canada¬†declared a large chunk of Ontario’s boreal (northern) forest off-limits to further development.¬† Then, soon after, Canada went further, establishing three National Wildlife¬†Areas in the Arctic.¬† The designation means that the areas’ natural features¬†will be protected from¬†disturbance and from activities considered harmful to species living there or to the habitat as a whole.
¬†¬†¬†¬† All three sites are located on Baffin Island.¬† Some of the species that will be protected, thanks to the¬†recent designations, are bowhead whales, polar bears. walruses, seals, and many species of birds.
¬†¬†¬†¬† The Inuit people, who live in Canada’s far north,¬†had been advocating¬†with Canada’s federal government since 2001 for the National Wildlife Area designations.¬† The day the designations were signed into law, was “a big day for Inuit,” stated James Eetoolook, acting president of¬†the Inuit organizations that had worked to bring about the federal protections.
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†And just this month, the Canadian government¬†extended¬†last year’s protections.¬†¬†Now, vessels, foreign and domestic, must report to¬†Canada’s Coast Guard when they are traveling through Arctic waters.¬†¬†”With mandatory reporting,” explains¬†Gail Shea, Canada’s Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, “the Canadian Coast Guard will be able to keep watch on vessels carrying pollutants, fuel oil and dangerous goods, and respond quickly in the event of an accident.”–April¬†Moore¬†