June 09, 2009 18:02 ET

WWF-Canada Applauds Historic Expansion of Nahanni National Park Reserve

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - June 9, 2009) - WWF-Canada congratulates the Dehcho First Nations and the Government of Canada for today's announcement of a huge expansion of the Nahanni National Park Reserve. The expansion represents a six-fold increase in size, and encompasses nearly the entire South Nahanni River watershed.

"This is a global-scale conservation achievement," said Gerald Butts, President and CEO of WWF-Canada. "Nahanni is the centerpiece of a regional conservation vision perhaps unparalleled in North America, as First Nations reserve areas throughout the Mackenzie River region in advance of development."

The expanded Nahanni River protected area will cover about 30,000 km2, roughly the size of Vancouver Island. The Park will provide world-class tourism opportunities for future generations and, more importantly, conserves an area of deep cultural and traditional importance for Dene peoples.

WWF-Canada recognizes the leadership roles played by all those who helped make this happen, especially the Dehcho First Nations, Parks Canada, the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, the Wildlife Conservation Society and the Canadian Boreal Initiative.

WWF-Canada has been part of a consortium of First Nations, the federal and territorial governments and conservation organizations collaborating to develop a network of protected areas in the Northwest Territories. WWF has provided funding, advocacy and technical support for efforts to protect Nahanni at key stages for nearly 20 years.

About WWF-Canada:

WWF was established in 1961 and operates in more than 100 countries, with over five million supporters worldwide. WWF's mission is to stop the degradation of the planet's natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature by conserving the world's biological diversity; ensuring that the use of renewable natural resources is sustainable; and promoting the reduction of pollution and wasteful consumption. WWF-Canada's top priorities are fighting climate change, the single biggest environmental threat to our planet; and conserving our oceans and freshwater resources. WWF-Canada's main office is in Toronto, with regional conservation offices located in Vancouver, Prince Rupert, St. Albert, Ottawa, Halifax and St. John's. For more information, visit www.wwf.ca.

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