Protecting Canada’s Wilderness by Volunteering with the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society

by Darby on April 10, 2015 - 6:39pm

Protected areas and parks are constantly being put at risk, more so than one might think. Developments that infringe upon their territories  endanger flora and fauna, many of whom are already endangered species, in these areas. Recently, I came across and article entitled "Proposed LNG pipelines put dozens of B.C. parks and protected areas at risk, report says" written by Stephen Hui on December 14th 2014 in the Georgie Straight, a long standing weekly Vancouver publication. It was concerned with the issue of defending protected areas from development.

In December 2014, 20 liquefied natural gas pipeline project proposals have been welcomed in British Columbia according to the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society’s B.C. chapter, CPAWS-BC.

CPAWS-BC’s report, released December 10th 2014, demonstrates the environmental effects these pipelines would have. In particular, they assessed the 5 main ones located in northern B.C.; Westcoast Connector Gas Transmission, Prince Rupert Gas Transmission, Pacific Trail Pipeline, Pacific Northern Gas Looping Project, and Coastal GasLink Pipeline.

Three of these pipelines would bisect the Burnie River Protected Area and the Nisga’a Memorial Lava Bed Provincial Park. There are currently no pathways through these areas and the addition of these would have negative effects. The areas will become divided by the pipelines. Not only does such a process reduce the area of protected land but it also disrupts wildlife mobility. This will disturb migratory species as well as those who move about the protected areas for mates and food.

These effects will also be seen in other parks and protected areas situated near the proposed projects. In fact, “CPAWS-BC observes that 28 provincial parks and protected areas lie within 10 kilometres of the five proposed pipeline routes” (Hui, 2015). This will largely fragment the landscape and impact mobility of species between areas. Such projects also make it very difficult to achieve the management goals set about in each protected area.

The report also criticizes the provincial government of B.C.’s Provincial Protected Area Boundary Adjustment Policy, Process & Guidelines which basically let prospective project developers remove sections of land from protected areas so that their works are no longer illegal. This appalling government policy allows the government essentially destroy any park or protected area they wish if it convenient for their economic agenda. B.C. is currently entranced in potential economic development and is failing to look at the long-term impacts on flora and fauna such as the caribou and grizzly bears.

The report finishes by suggesting that “looking ahead, we need to carefully and thoroughly measure all decisions made around LNG projects and not rush into approving projects before we fully understand what will happen in the long term” (Hui, 2015).

To read the original article you can follow this link. This article was based on a report written by CPAWS, an organization I intend to volunteer with.

The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, CPAWS, is a non-profit organization whose mission is to keep half of Canada’s public areas natural and wild forever. It has an important role to play in the protection of Canada’s wilderness. They cooperate with many other environmental groups, governments, industries, and communities in order to protect our land and water. The organization which has been around since 1963, is divided into local chapters.

I will be volunteering with the Quebec chapter of CPAWS known as the Société pour la nature et les parcs du Canada, SNAP. The SNAP, established in 2001, focuses on “the establishment of a true network of protected areas throughout the province, the protection of the boreal forest and the good management of existing parks and protected areas” (Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, 2015).

They help protect existing natural sites from all forms of industrial activity and preserve the ecological integrity of the areas. They prevent harmful activities from taking place in the protected areas as well as their immediate surroundings. The main goal of CPAWS is “ensuring the existence of [our] natural treasures”. They identify sites whose conservation are a priority and work to defend them. Their mission is both about conservation and education. They continue to work towards creating new protected areas and to do so, they need the support of the public.

By going into local areas to explain the environmental problems and provide the facts, CPAWS successfully mobilizes the public to help conserve important natural areas.

The preservation of biodiversity depends largely upon the creation and up-keeping of a network of protected natural sites. In Quebec, these areas oft become fun places to participate in low impact recreational activities such as hiking, canoeing, camping and more that allow the public to appreciate our natural environment further.

I will be volunteering with SNAP in order to help push for the creation of new protected areas. The international community, including Canada, signed an agreement that “set a protected areas target of 17% by 2020 and Quebec has set its own target of 12% by 2015”. This has not happened yet and almost no work has been carried out thus far to make this happen on the part of the governments.

I am volunteering with them because this is an issue that needs to be addressed. It is highly important to me as an individual but also on a global scale that we do everything we can to have protected natural areas.

I have written about several news stories concerning varying environmental issues thus far. Writing about these issues made me more passionate to seek out solutions. Through this, I started to notice that a lot of problems come back to the same issue, lack of protection of important areas for biodiversity. I then became inspired to volunteer in a way that would help preserve natural spaces and keep Canada beautiful. Protecting wilderness, as the SNAP does, is a good first step towards a healthier environment overall.

I will be doing two things as a volunteer. I will be helping at a kiosk on April 25th at MEC in Longueil. SNAP will be there that day collecting signatures and donations. I will be helping them in manning the booth and in the collection of signatures for the Nagoya + petition and donations.

The second task I will be carrying out is my own project. I received the go-ahead from SNAP to collect signatures for their Nagoya + petition in my own CEGEP. I will gather a small team, a few clipboards, and wander the school obtaining signatures for the cause. I will also try to set up a table during Free Block which is a two hour time slot in which no students have class. Furthermore, I will try to coordinate my efforts with current groups already established in the CEGEP such as the student association and the green team. I will be doing this until the semester is over after which I will bring the petition sheets back to the SNAP office and enter the data into their system.

The signatures we are collecting are for the Nagoya + petition they have going in all of their chapters. Their goal is to obtain 10 000 signatures in Quebec in order to draw the governments attention back to the agreements they made at Nagoya in 2010.

The petition states the following (it is in French, a translation follows):

“Aujourd'hui, le Québec compte moins de 10 % d'aires protégées, alors que les objectifs internationaux pour la biodiversité visent un minimum de 17 % d'ici 2020. Si vous aussi, vous pensez que le Québec peut faire mieux, alors vous partagez les objectifs de la campagne Nagoya +, réalisée par Nature Québec et la SNAP Québec. En signant cette pétition, je demande que le gouvernement du Québec respecte les objectifs fixés par la Convention sur la Diversité Biologique à Nagoya et s'engage à faire + : 25 % d'aires protégées d'ici 2025 sur l'ensemble du territoire” (Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, 2015).

Today, the province of Quebec is made up of less that 10% of protected areas. However, the international objective for biodiversity is to reach a minimum of 17% of protected areas by 2020.

If you think that Quebec can do better, then you share the objectives of the Nagoya + campaign created by SNAP Quebec and Nature Quebec. By signing this petition, I am asking the government of Quebec to respect the objectives fixed by the Convention for Biological Diversity held at Nagoya and to protect 25% of Quebec’s areas by 2025.

Lastly, I am considering also doing some translation work for SNAP seeing as sections of their website and certain documents are only available in French.

I believe that when it comes to environmental issues, people shy away because perhaps they think it is too difficult to help, too inconvenient, too hopeless and too big of an issue. I would like to challenge that idea. Every little step each of us takes to being better towards our world is not only helpful in the action itself but it can also inspire others to do the same. It was not long ago that people didn’t recycle but now we see recycling bins everywhere and find it weird when someone puts paper in the garbage. Change needs to start on the small scale and grow. The protection of our environment is not a hopeless cause so long as we continue to do our part and believe that change is possible.

Bibliography

Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society. (2015). Section Quebec. Retrieved February 2015, from SNAP: http://www.snapqc.org/

Hui, S. (2015, December 14). Proposed LNG pipelines put dozens of B.C. parks and protected areas at risk, report says. Georgia Straight.